Congressional leaders have announced a deal to replenish several CARES Act funding streams for COVID-19 readiness and response. The legislation increases the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund from $100 billion to $175 billion, and appropriates $25 billion to bolster the United States’ testing infrastructure.

The agreement was negotiated primarily by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and the Trump Administration. Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi were strong advocates in these negotiations for enhanced hospital and provider funding, and we are extremely grateful for their support of the hospitals and health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. I want to especially thank Senator Schumer, who has continuously fought to protect us.

GNYHA will continue to aggressively push for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to target providers in COVID-19 “hot spots” such as the New York City area (the allocation methodology for the initial $30 billion disbursement did not target hot spots).

The $25 billion for testing will be allocated as follows:

  • $11 billion for states, localities, and tribes, including:
    • $4.25 billion is specifically earmarked for “surge areas”
    • $2 billion for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant program
  • The remaining $14 billion will go to Federal agencies involved in testing, including:
    • $1 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • $1.8 billion for the National Institutes of Health
    • $1 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority
    • Up to $1 billion may be used to cover the costs of testing for the uninsured

The legislation also includes $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and $60 billion for disaster loans and grants through the Small Business Administration. Both programs have depleted the funds appropriated in the CARES Act.

This legislation should not be viewed as “phase four” of the Congressional response to COVID-19. Rather, it is a replenishment of funds for the “phase three” legislation (the CARES Act). We expect Congress to begin negotiating a broader phase four package in the near future.

Next Steps

Neither the Senate nor House is currently physically in Washington, DC, but the legislation can be passed by “unanimous consent” if no members of the Senate or House object on the floor. The Senate will likely pass the legislation by unanimous consent today. However, with at least one House member expected to object to the legislation, the House is expected to return to Washington on Thursday for a formal in-person vote. We expect Congressional leaders to begin floor proceedings as soon as possible.

We are grateful for the New York Congressional delegation’s advocacy on this issue—27 members sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the Administration last week calling for changes to the distribution methodology. We thank Representatives Peter King and Tom Suozzi for leading this letter. The Department of Health and Human Services has indicated that another tranche of provider funding could be released soon, but this situation is very fluid, and it is still unclear how they plan to allocate funds going forward.

GNYHA will also work to ensure that the funding to improve testing capacity prioritizes hot spots.

We will keep you apprised of any developments in the Federal response to the COVID-19 crisis.