Congress Must Create a Coronavirus Victims Compensation Fund

The health care providers and essential workers fighting the coronavirus wars are no less heroic, and tragically, no less likely to suffer long-term lung disease, than the 9/11 First Responders.  For all that they have done, Congress should establish a Coronavirus Victims Compensation Fund using the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, now set to renew automatically until 2090, as the model.

Who should be covered?  Congress ultimately will make that decision, but certainly the list must include the doctors, nurses, physicians’ assistants, pulmonary techs, EMTs, ambulance drivers and anyone else, including the guy delivering your pizza,  who has been harmed by the virus.  How much money should be allocated to the fund?  Again, that is the work of Congress, but the funding should cover the long-term financial loss of family survivors of those who died, those who contracted the virus themselves, leaving them with damaged lungs or any other resulting illness, no matter when the virus-related symptoms arise, and who will be in need of long-term care, and, as some in Congress have suggested, retroactive hazard pay for all those whose efforts have been so consequential in fighting the pandemic.

Of note, some health care systems owned by private equity companies, have slashed the benefits and pay of doctors–including those risking their lives in the ER and ICU–because they are losing money on other areas of medicine all but eliminated by the lockdown.  I cannot imagine that doctors thought the Hippocratic Oath would turn out to be a suicide pact, yet there they are, each day, saving lives and risking theirs for the rest of us. And now, thanks to their employers, many of them have the added stress of trying to make ends meet.

On behalf of everyone at our firm, a feeling shared by everyone, our profound gratitude for all you have done for the American public. And for anyone who reads this, please phone your representative and senators and urge them to begin work on this bill immediately—and sign any one of several petitions online urging passage of a Coronavirus Victims Compensation Fund.