On Thursday, March 5, the Senate voted 91-1 to pass H.R. 6074, the $8.3 billion emergency supplemental appropriation to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (summary). The sole “no” vote was from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who offered an amendment (SA 1506) to rescind unobligated balances for certain international programs to offset the amounts appropriated in H.R. 6074. That motion was tabled prior to the vote to pass the bill. The following day, President Trump signed the bill into law (press release).
Highlights of the emergency spending agreement include (more here):
- The bulk of the funding – roughly $6.5 billion – is directed to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support agency-led domestic and international coronavirus preparation and response, including:
- $3.1 billion to the HHS Office of the Secretary, via the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, to support research and development (R&D) of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, including via the stockpile of such supplies. Roughly $300 million is allocated to the federal government to purchase vaccines, therapeutics or diagnostics at an affordable price, though the bill does not appear to address how the federal government will treat uninsured individuals who present with the virus.
Funds may also be used to support grants for the construction, alteration, or renovation of non-federally owned facilities to improve state/local preparedness and response capabilities. Of note, $100 million is directed to support primary health care efforts led by community health centers (CHCs) for coronavirus preparedness and response activities.
- $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness and response – largely via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of this funding, $950 million is earmarked in CDC grants to states and localities for surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications and other preparedness and response activities.
- $61 million to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support the development and review (pre-market and post-market) of medical countermeasures, devices, therapies and vaccines to combat the coronavirus.
- Of the nearly $900 million allocated to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $10 million is directed to support worker-based training to prevent and reduce exposure of hospital employees, emergency first responders and other workers who are at risk of exposure to coronavirus through their work activities.
- Secretarial authority to temporarily waive or modify application of certain Medicare telehealth requirements furnished during emergency periods (see Div. B, pp. 24-28), as opposed to a more broader application beyond the limited emergency declaration period that some stakeholders sought. The provision would allow Medicare beneficiaries, including those living in non-rural areas, to receive care from physicians and other qualified practitioners in their homes.
Other provisions include small business disaster loans; and global health response activities and more. We will continue to keep you posted as deliberations continue. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions.