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On the Hill: Senate Fails to Advance Targeted COVID-19 Bill

Last week, Senate lawmakers failed to advance legislation to replenish funds for a small business loan program established as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sought to quickly pass legislation to bolster the amount of federal funds available to support loans to small businesses economically harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Democrats countered with a proposal to increase emergency funding allocated to hospitals, other providers, and state governments under the CARES Act, in addition to the economic aid provided for small businesses. The Democrats’ proposal also sought to award hazard pay to workers considered essential during the outbreak, including front-line health care workers and first responders.

Negotiations continue this week.

Association Shares COVID-19 Priorities With Congressional Leaders

Meanwhile, America’s Essential Hospitals in a letter to congressional leadership shared its current priorities for the next COVID-19 supplemental legislation.

The association called for lawmakers to add dollars to the emergency fund for hospitals and providers and to prioritize support for hospitals that disproportionately serve Medicaid and low-income patients. In addition, the letter also urges Congress to:

  • block implementation of the proposed Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation, among other recommended Medicaid policy changes;
  • protect 340B Drug Pricing Program benefits for covered entities during the COVID-19 outbreak; 
  • forgive certain payments received through the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payments Program and reduce the interest rate on repayment of funds; and
  • expand telehealth flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow distant sites to bill a facility fee.

Congress Extends Recess to May 4

Members of Congress will not return to D.C. before May 4, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced April 14. Congress previously was scheduled to resume legislative business April 20. Upon return, lawmakers are expected to work on another comprehensive legislative package to mitigate the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Webinar on Available Emergency Funding

Please join association staff for an April 15 webinar at 2 pm ET about how essential hospitals can access federal funds recently made available to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis. The webinar is open to all America’s Essential Hospitals members.

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About the Author

Erin Delaney is a former legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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