What Congress Is Doing
The legislation provides $8.3 billion in all new funding for a robust response to this public health emergency. That includes funding for state and local health agencies to conduct vital public health activities, including surveillance, laboratory testing, infection control, contact tracing, and mitigation.
Among its provisions, the emergency supplemental includes:
- $3 billion to the development of treatments and a coronavirus vaccine;
- $300 million to ensure Americans will have access to the vaccine regardless of their ability to pay;
- protections against price-gouging of medicines developed with taxpayer dollars by ensuring that the federal government will only pay a fair and reasonable price for Coronavirus vaccines and drugs and providing HHS the authority to ensure that they are affordable in the commercial market;
- $500 million to allow Medicare providers to extend telemedicine services to seniors regardless of where they live; and
- Financial relief for small businesses.
H.R. 6201 provides the follwoing benefits:
- Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured. In negotiations with the Administration, House Democrats insisted that all people who need to be tested, according to a medical professional, have access, and we defeated the Administration’s effort to impose burdensome income testing.
- Paid emergency leave, with both 14 days of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave.
- Enhanced Unemployment Insurance, a first step that will extend protections to furloughed workers. The Administration had insisted that UI changes be made by Administrative action; Democrats successfully ensured that this be done by legislation.
- Strengthened food security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals, seniors’ nutrition and food banks. Democrats have ensured that SNAP work requirements will be paused for the duration of the public health crisis.
- Increased federal funds for Medicaid, as states face increased costs.