The Senate passed and the House will vote Thursday on a $484 billion relief package. This “Phase 3.5” bill is not nearly as large as the $2.2 trillion “Phase 3” CARES Act. It is mostly limited to adding funding and enhancing programs from the CARES Act.
- $310 billion of the total is for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Another $10 billion is for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and another $50 billion is for the SBA Disaster Loans Program.
- Last week, the SBA finished distributing $349 billion in PPP funding and $10 billion in EIDL funding that it received from the CARES Act.
- The SBA stopped accepting new applications under the two programs until funds were replenished. Banks that are processing the PPP loans for the SBA say the new funding might not last for more than two days based on the application volume.
- The bill provides $75 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to distribute to hospitals and healthcare providers for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue.
- It also provides $25 billion to support federal efforts to research, develop and produce COVID-19 tests. $11 billion of this total is reserved for state and local governments for testing costs. It also provides $1 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for various surveillance and epidemiologic purposes and $1.8 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for testing research.
- $225 million will be distributed to rural health clinics and $600 million will be distributed to community health centers. Up to $1 billion is allocated for covering testing costs for uninsured people.
- The Senate passed the bill, H.R. 266, this afternoon by a unanimous consent voice vote, about an hour after the text was released.
- On Thursday, the House will not be able to get a unanimous consent vote on the Phase 3.5 bill and will therefore need to bring enough Members back to reach a quorum for a roll call vote. The House is considering changing its rules to allow proxy voting in place of the current requirement that a Member must be present to vote.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken actions in response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), as part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. For information specific to CMS, visit the CMS News Room and Current Emergencies Website. CMS updates these resources on an ongoing basis throughout the day.
- CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced they will grant certain enforcement flexibilities for providers to implement the provisions of two final rules on electronic health record (EHR) interoperability and data blocking. The two regulations were issued around the same time that the coronavirus began spreading in the U.S. Most of the provisions of those regulations are to take effect on January 1, 2021, but some provisions are set to take effect as soon as July of 2020.
- CMS is easing the burden on Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) during the Public Health Emergency. CMS directed plans that are eligible to report for the Quality Rating System and the Quality Improvement Strategy programs to discontinue collecting clinical quality measure data. Eligible QHPs can discontinue reporting in June 2020 for display on Exchange websites for the 2021 Open Enrollment period. CMS will continue to accept QHP Enrollee survey data submissions for this year, given that the survey administration is already underway.
- CMS has approved 53 COVID-related emergency waivers, 39 state amendments, 16 COVID-related Medicaid Disaster Amendments and one CHIP COVID-related Disaster Amendment in record time. States are using a toolkit CMS developed to expedite the application and approval of Medicaid state waivers and State Plan Amendments.
Vice President Mike Pence says the country has the testing capacity needed to begin reopening the economy from lockdown.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new COVID-19 test that allows patients to collect samples at home instead of traveling to a healthcare provider or testing facility.
The Treasury Department began making $2.9 billion in payments to airline companies. The funding was provided by the CARES Act.