On March 4, Congressional leaders reached a deal on an $8.3 billion spending package to combat the novel coronavirus. The Senate subsequently passed the measure, and the President has signed it.
The bill, H.R. 6074 (116), provides new discretionary spending to bolster vaccine development, research, equipment stockpiles, and state and local health budgets. Key components are:
- $400 million will be sent to state and local governments within 30 days after the bill is enacted, with each state receiving at least $4 million.
- $490 million in mandatory spending by lifting constraints on Medicare payments for telehealth so beneficiaries can freely consult their doctors remotely — avoiding hospitals and physicians’ offices, where they might risk exposure to the virus
- $836 million to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics
- $10 million will be allocated to worker-based training to prevent and reduce exposure for hospital employees, emergency first responders, and other workers on the front lines.
- $3.1 billion to shore up medical supplies and supplement the Strategic National Stockpile, including:
- $100 million for community health centers
- $826 million for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for the development of coronavirus vaccines, treatments, and tests
- $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including $950 million to support the response efforts of state and local health agencies; about half of that must be allocated in the next 30 days.
- $61 million for the FDA for vaccines and other efforts to counter the virus, keeping up with shortages in medical products, and efforts to boost U.S. manufacturing of those items
- $1.3 billion for the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development for aiding the global fight against the virus
- Raises the cap from $10 million to $100 million for emergency evacuations
- $20 million to the Small Business Administration to increase the number of loans for businesses affected by the outbreak
- $136 million to replace funds recently shifted from various health accounts, including mental health and substance abuse programs
CHA will continue to work with members of the California congressional delegation to respond to member hospitals’ needs.