The Strange Ethics Of Government Disaster Assistance
FEMA offers up to $9,000 in funeral expenses for Covid deaths, but not for cancer or heart disease. Why?
On May 11, 2023, the official designation of Covid as an emergency will end in America. This is mostly a technicality. Most of the country is already back to normal, of course, and most remaining Covid-related policies have long been at the discretion of state and local governments, and institutions such as schools, anyway.
One federal policy, however, that will continue well beyond the end of the emergency designation is FEMA’s funeral expense assistance, to the tune of $9,000, for Covid-related deaths. (The died “with Covid”-vs-“from Covid” debate is outside the scope of this article.) As of October 2022, we—as taxpayers—collectively paid out $2.8 billion as part of this funeral assistance program.
Remarkably, the funeral assistance will continue through September 2025, long after the official emergency has ended.
This raises several questions.
What is the logic behind giving a family up to $9,000 if a loved one dies from Covid on September 30, 2025, but offering $0 if a loved one dies from Covid on October 1, 2025?
And, more fundamentally:
Why does our government assist in paying funeral expenses for Covid deaths, but not for cancer or heart disease, or any number of other causes of death?
Over a year ago I reached out to FEMA to try to find out.
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