On May 12, House Democrats introduced The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (Heroes Act) (H.R. 6800) – a $3 trillion package to provide additional coronavirus relief (press release; legislative text; summary; section-by-section).
The Heroes Act appears to be a marker bill that stakes out House Democrats’ starting position in a debate between both chambers and the White House that could drag out for weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has contended that she will stick to a floor vote on May 15, despite receiving some pushback from the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and President Trump indicating that the Heroes Act is dead-on-arrival in its current form.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is pushing for inclusion of Paycheck Guarantee Act (press release; white paper, summary), which would cover 100 percent of wages for workers earning up to $100,000 a year and cover essential businesses expenses (e.g., rent), among other changes. As characterized by Rep. Jayapal, the bill is tended to “end mass layoffs, keep workers paid and connected to health care and other benefits, prevent employers of all sizes from being forced to close permanently, and ensure that the economy is ready to restart when the pandemic ends.”
On May 12, Leader McConnell noted that “Senate Republicans are preparing a major package of COVID-related liability reforms to foster economic recovery” but did not specify a timeline on its introduction.
The House is also expected to consider a resolution authorizing remote voting by proxy in the House on May 15.
Snapshot – The package includes:
- Provider Relief Fund – $100 billion in grants for hospital and health care providers to be reimbursed for health care related expenses or lost revenue directly attributable to the public health emergency, as well $75 billion for testing, contact tracing, and other activities.
- SNAP Increase – $10 billion to support anticipated increases in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation and increases related to flexibilities provided to by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116-127).
- Coronavirus Relief Fund – $500 billion to states, $375 billion to localities, $20 billion to territories, and $20 billion to tribes.
- Medicaid – Increases the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) payments to state Medicaid programs by 14 percent through June 30, 2021; increases Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments by 2.5 percent; and increases federal payments for the Medicaid home- and community-based services (HCBS) benefit by 10 percent.
- Special Enrollment Periods – Requires a special enrollment period for eligible individuals to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, as well as a two-month special enrollment for uninsured individual to enroll in coverage offered through the Exchange
- Accelerated and Advance Payment Programs – Lowers the interest rate to one percent for loans that providers have accepted through the CMS Accelerated and Advance Payment Programs; reduces the per-claim recoupment amount to a maximum of 25 percent; and extends the period during which providers do not yet have to repay payments.
- Broadband – $2 billion for a temporary expansion of the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program (RHCP) to partially subsidize their health care providers’ broadband service.
- Heroes Fund – $190 billion to the Heroes Fund which would be administered by the Department of Treasury and provide premium pay to essential workers.