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COVID-19

U.S. stimulus bill includes billions of dollars for coronavirus healthcare efforts

Melissa D. Berry  Regulatory Intelligence

Melissa D. Berry  Regulatory Intelligence

A $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed by the U.S. Senate late on Wednesday includes billions of dollars for health-related measures in response to the pandemic.

The bill passed unanimously and now heads to the House of Representatives, where Democratic leaders hope to pass it on Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he would sign the measure as passed by the Senate.
The bill, called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), will provide $330 billion in new funding, according to a summary by the senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont. The summary does not include additional authorization measures not in the committee’s jurisdiction. The most significant portions of the CARES Act appropriations go to support healthcare providers and researchers in their fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the United States had nearly 54,500 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday with 737 total deaths. The coronavirus had spread to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Under its commitment to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, the bill includes $4.3 billion to support federal, state and local public health agencies to respond to the coronavirus, including:

$1.5 billion to states, locals, territories and tribes for public health activities, including the purchase of personal protective equipment, surveillance for the coronavirus, testing to detect positive cases, contact tracing, infection control and other public health preparedness and responses;

$1.5 billion in flexible funding to support the CDC’s continuing efforts to contain and combat the virus, purchase and distribution of diagnostic testing, support of laboratory testing, public education and other efforts;

$500 million for global disease detection and emergency response;

$500 million for public health data surveillance and analytics infrastructure modernization;

and $300 million for the Infection Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund.

The CARES Act includes $127 billion to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response for response efforts including:

$100 billion for a new program to provide grants to hospitals, public entities, not-for-profits entities and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers and institutional providers to cover unreimbursed healthcare related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.

$27 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support the research and development of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, including:

$16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile for critical medical supplies, personal protective equipment and medicine; $3.5 billion to advance construction, manufacturing and purchase of vaccines and therapeutics;

$250 million for the Hospital Preparedness Program and

Other measures to improved U.S.-based supply chain and manufacturing, increase medical surge capacity, workforce modernization and telehealth access.

The bill also includes $945 million to the National Institutes of Health to support research and understanding of the novel coronavirus as well as develop countermeasures for the prevention and treatment of the virus.

Other highlights of the healthcare spending provisions include funding in the following areas.

Disaster Relief Fund

$45 billion for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal and territorial governments to reimburse for medical response, personal protective equipment, National Guard deployment, coordination or logistics, safety measures and community services relating to the coronavirus pandemic.

Funding for healthcare providers and care facilities

$1.5 billion to expand military hospitals to nearly triple the 4,300 beds available in military treatment facilities.

$185 million to support rural critical access hospitals, rural tribal health and telehealth programs and poison control centers.

$100 million to the ReConnect program to help ensure rural Americans have access to broadband.

$25 million to help improve distance learning and telemedicine in rural areas of the country.

Funding for person protective and medical equipment

$1 billion under the Defense Production Act to allow the Department of Defense to invest in manufacturing to increase the production rate of personal protective equipment and medical equipment to meet the demand of healthcare workers.

$100 million for personal protective equipment for first responders.

$178 million for the Department of Homeland Security to provide personal protective equipment to front line federal employees.

Other research and development

$10 million for the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals to support the development and manufacture of medical countermeasures and biomedical supplies to combat the coronavirus.
$6 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to provide continuity of operations and to support testing and treatment of coronavirus.

$75 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research to better understand coronavirus.

$415 million for military medical research programs to develop vaccines, anti-viral pharmaceuticals and related testing.

Additional appropriations

It also includes more than $19.5 billion to the Department of Veterans Affairs to support the increased demand for services specific to the coronavirus and provide other services to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread in the veteran population.

The CARES Act also provides more than $1 billion in funding to the Indian Health Services for medical services, equipment, supplies and public health education.

The bill provides $200 million for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to assist nursing homes with infection control and support state efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes.
$80 million to the Food and Drug Administration to continue it work related to shortages of critical medicines, enforcement work on counterfeit and misbranded products, emergency use authorizations as well as pre- and post-market work on coronavirus therapies, vaccines and research.

An additional $55 million will go to assist U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States to prevent and mitigate the coronavirus outbreak, including medical supplies and equipment, services and facilities.

For a regularly updated list of U.S. federal regulations related to the COVID-19/novel coronavirus update, please visit the Skopos Labs Coronavirus Policy Tracker.

To keep up-dated on the latest news and information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic impact, and the government’s response, at Thomson Reuters’ COVID-19 Resource Center, and you can follow Reuters.com or the Reuters App.