House and Senate leaders are working toward agreement on legislation to boost the economy, relieve financial burden on individuals and families, and help ensure hospitals and other providers have the resources to diagnose and treat affected patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senate Continues Negotiations on $1.6T Package
After negotiating with Senate Democratic leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) over the weekend unveiled a $1.6 trillion COVID-19 stimulus funding package: the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The proposed legislation includes:
- $75 billion in emergency funding to reimburse eligible health care providers for nonreimbursable health care–related expenses or lost revenue directly attributable to COVID-19;
- a delay of the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) cuts and a funding extension for expiring health care programs until fiscal year 2022; and
- a temporary suspension of the Medicare sequester payment reduction from May 1 through Dec. 31, 2020.
In two procedural votes Monday, the package failed to garner the necessary 60 votes due to disagreements over the level of federal assistance to large corporations and unemployment insurance, among other concerns.
America’s Essential Hospitals published an Action Update for members highlighting further details of the Senate legislation.
House Democrats Develop Separate Proposal
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democratic leaders have developed a competing COVID-19 legislative proposal: the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act (H.R. 6379). This legislation would:
- provide $100 billion in emergency funding for hospitals and providers through grants or other mechanisms to cover nonreimbursable expenses and lost revenue as a result of COVID-19;
- establish a loan program to assist hospitals and other health care providers with lost revenue or high operating costs as a result of COVID-19;
- block the proposed Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation (MFAR) from being finalized for two years;
- delay the Medicaid DSH cuts and extend funding for expiring health care programs through Nov. 30, 2020;
- temporarily increase Medicaid DSH state allotments by 2.5 percentage points for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency;
- suspend the Medicare sequester for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency; and
- provide payroll tax credits to hospitals to offset the costs of charity care and construction, leasing, and retrofitting of structures to treat COVID-19 patients.
Should a final agreement be reached on a third legislative package, votes could be held in both chambers of Congress by the end of this week.