The Century Foundation  |  March 13, 2020

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As the number of coronavirus cases rapidly increases, quick, impactful action from both state and federal governments to ensure that people have health coverage and care that is affordable becomes more critical than ever. Taking such action will supplement other urgently needed public health measures—such as paid sick leave, social distancing, and emergency federal support for state and local health departments (building on the $950 million emergency funding laws passed in early March)—by encouraging people to seek testing and care. And while other urgent and expansive efforts to bolster our medical supplies, testing capabilities, and hospitals and clinics’ capacity to serve patients are increasingly necessary, actions making coverage and care affordable to individuals will not only improve individual health outcomes but also can contribute to a slowing of the spread of the virus (“flattening the curve”), mitigating the stress on our health care system at any given time—which, in turn, will save lives.

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