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On the Hill: Negotiations Begin on Next COVID-19 Package

Senators return to Washington this week to begin much-anticipated negotiations on the next COVID-19 supplemental package. Republicans and Democrats remain divided on priority relief measures to include in a final bill.

Senate Republicans aim to secure liability protections for health care providers and businesses, as well as funding to support COVID-19 testing and reopening of schools. Democrats will lean heavily on policies included in the House-passed Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, including additional funding for state and local governments, extended enhanced unemployment compensation, and continued relief for health care providers.

In a letter earlier this month to Senate leadership, America’s Essential Hospitals outlined important policy priorities to include in the next round of COVID-19 legislation. The association encourages members to share essential hospital priorities with their congressional delegations.

Association Shares COVID-19 Telehealth Priorities

Meanwhile, America’s Essential Hospitals last week sent a letter to key congressional committees highlighting the importance of telehealth both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes to telehealth policy in recent emergency legislation greatly facilitated essential hospitals’ ability to provide and manage care to patients during this public health emergency (PHE). However, the majority of these important telehealth policy changes are legislatively tied to the PHE.

The association urged lawmakers to make permanent policies that would:

  • lift geographic, originating site, and site-of-service restrictions;
  • allow hospitals to bill a facility fee at an adequate rate; and
  • permit the use of audio-only equipment for certain evaluation and management codes.

COVID-19 Congressional Committee Hearings

The Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a July 21 hearing on COVID-19 racial health disparities among older Americans. Eugene Woods, president and CEO of member hospital Atrium Health, in Charlotte, N.C., will testify at the hearing.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a July 21 hearing on COVID-19 vaccine development.


About the Author

Nikki Hurt is a manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.

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