Biden Administration Wants States and Cities to Pay People $100 to Get Shots
WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is calling on states, territories and local governments to pay Americans unvaccinated against the coronavirus $ 100 to get vaccinated. The move comes as concern grows over increasing cases across the country, and the administration has shifted its strategy to focus on more personalized approaches.
The Treasury Department said on Thursday that the money to pay the vaccine incentive payments could come from the $ 350 billion in relief funds that are being given to states and cities as part of the economic bailout that Congress approved. in March. The incentive is intended to “increase vaccination rates, protect communities and save lives”.
The administration is also stepping up efforts to get companies to give their employees time off to get vaccinated.
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have said employers can claim tax credits to cover wages paid to workers who take family members for immunizations or care for household members who get vaccinated. recover from vaccination. Self-employed workers are also eligible for tax credits.
The initiative builds on a program that was rolled out in April that offered a paid vacation tax credit to offset the cost to businesses with fewer than 500 workers incurred by giving workers paid time to get vaccinated.
The Biden administration has argued with some states over how relief money can be used, but earlier this year guidelines made it clear they could be spent on programs that are expected to increase the number of people who choose to be vaccinated. The Treasury Department said it will provide technical assistance to states and cities to help them use the money to boost immunizations in their communities and that it will work with the Department of Health and Human Services.
States and cities have taken creative approaches, such as lotteries, to encourage people to get vaccinated. Some experts, especially at the start of the vaccination campaign, however, expressed concern over the idea of paying people to be vaccinated, fearing it might be seen as out of step with the message that vaccines deliver. huge benefits in themselves. Opponents of the idea have also questioned whether paying people is the best use of funds to encourage people to get vaccinated.
Understanding the State of Vaccination Mandates in the United States
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week the city will start offering payments of $ 100 as part of an incentive plan to get more people to get vaccinated. The program is expected to start on Friday.
“I think when someone says here’s $ 100 for you, it’s going to have a big impact,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Dr Elisa Sobo, an anthropologist at San Diego State University who studies vaccine reluctance, said the payment could be an incentive, but suggested it was unlikely to influence all unvaccinated people. “Some people will find the offer insulting; others will use it as “proof” that the vaccine is not good, “she said. But, she added, “There are a lot of people who will say ‘why not’ to $ 100. Some people who were on the fence so far will see $ 100 as a good reason to get rid of it. “
In guidelines released in May, the Treasury said relief funds can be used to encourage vaccinations “as long as those costs are reasonably proportional to the expected public health benefits.”
Rebecca Robbins and Sharon Otterman contributed reporting.
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