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Congress Invests in COVID-19 Response; Support for Health Care Providers and Prioritizes Testing

With the country still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress authorized additional funding to reinforce the economic relief provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including directing additional resources to the public health response and replenishing the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Today, President Trump signed the legislation.

Within this new package—H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act—an additional $75 billion is dedicated to support health care providers in managing coronavirus-related expenses and lost revenue. Importantly, the package also invests $25 billion in expanding our nation’s COVID-19 testing capacity.

The additional $75 billion in funding can be used to cover the costs of medical supplies and equipment, including personal protective equipment and testing supplies, and for other activities, such as funding emergency operations centers, retrofitting facilities, and building temporary structures to handle surge capacity.

Testing expansion received $25 billion in the new relief package to cover all necessary aspects of testing—research and development, validation, manufacturing, and purchasing and administering COVID-19 tests. Specifically, the $25 billion includes funding for:

  • States, localities, territories, and tribes—$11 billion for all aspects of testing expansion, including contact tracing and employer testing
  • The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention—$1 billion for public health data surveillance and affiliated analytics infrastructure modernization
  • The National Institutes of Health—$1.8 billion for development and research
  • The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority—$1 billion for advanced research and development and related supplies
  • The Food and Drug Administration—$22 million for support and administrative activities
  • Community health centers and rural health clinics—$825 million
  • U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General—$6 million for oversight administration
  • Testing for the uninsured—$1 billion

States are required to document and submit their testing plans, along with formal plans and timelines for reopening economies and easing current mitigation strategies.

Pennsylvania health care providers received significant support from the first distribution of funding from the CARES Act, and are enormously grateful for the federal dollars. HAP and the hospital community thank Congress for its swift action in providing funding that will help to cover drastically increased expenses and the precipitous declines in patient volume which has impacted hospital revenue.

HAP continues to advocate for additional financial support for Pennsylvania’s hospitals, as they continue to care for COVID-19 and other patients, while dealing with extraordinary revenue losses. A recently released report—commissioned by HAP and conducted by Health Management Associates—provides the first verified projections of the financial toll that COVID-19 has taken on Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health systems. In part, the report estimates that, statewide, the hospital community will experience more than $10.2 billion in losses during calendar year 2020.

Specific measures that HAP has with federal and state leaders to help stabilize the hospital community include:

  • Creating the Healthcare Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund and allocating federal CARES Act money to support the hospital community’s COVID-19 response
  • Relieving hospitals from payment of the upcoming third and fourth quarter Quality Care Assessment payments, with the next $250 million installment of the due May 1
  • Establishing liability protections during the pandemic
  • Establishing insurer payment solutions

More details about HAP’s advocacy initiatives are available at HAP’s website.

With questions or for more information, please contact HAP’s Laura Stevens Kent, senior vice president, strategic integration, or Warren Kampf, HAP’s senior vice president, advocacy and external affairs.

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