History made, history revisited


The Biden administration has passed and signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which contains a plethora of moneys targeted to people, businesses, and health systems impacted by the pandemic. According to the Economist, the bill would bring the amount of COVID-related spending since December 2020 to $3 trillion (14% of prepandemic GDP) and to $6 trillion since the start of the pandemic. This type of stimulus (regarded as income, not savings, by most people) will generate unprecedented consumer spending. The risk, of course, is inflation, rising interest rates, and long-term debt.

Dr. John I. Allen

Dr. John I. Allen

That said, there is substantial funding targeting scientific research, vaccine distribution, public health entities, global health initiatives, rural health care, and a variety of other health-related issues. By my rough estimation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will see $12 billion in incremental funding, $10 billion for public health projects including $3 billion for community health centers and federally qualified health centers, and over $3 billion for mental and behavioral health. The Department of Health & Human Services will see substantial funding for a variety of projects. Teaching health centers will see $330 million additional funds (including a $10,000 per-resident increase and payments to establish new graduate residency training programs).

The impact on low-income families and childhood poverty will be substantial and reverses the philosophical underpinning of recent welfare reforms. U.S. welfare dates back to the early 1900s and the philosophical foundation has evolved over time. According to the Constitutional Rights Foundation (, it began after food riots broke out during the Great Depression. The Great Depression affected children and the elderly most severely, so the nation’s willingness to implement federal welfare was high. Prior to the Depression, the only federal program providing money to low-income people was the “mothers pension” designed to support poor fatherless children, but it excluded divorced, deserted and minority mothers. President Roosevelt was able to pass the Social Security Act (1935), which supported the elderly and began Federal welfare. During the Clinton presidency, welfare “as we know it” changed to include work requirements. With the passage of the current Biden legislation, those requirements are rolled back and funds are targeted broadly to low income Americans and children.

John I. Allen, MD, MBA, AGAF
Editor in Chief

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