The United States (U.S.) now has the largest number of confirmed reported COVID-19 cases in the world, and New York City is currently the American epicenter of this pandemic. Throughout the world, and now in America, this virus is overwhelming families, workers, businesses, and the healthcare industry. The U.S. is facing the same healthcare resource shortages that have been experienced globally, including a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and healthcare workers.
On Friday, March 27th the U.S. House of Representatives approved, and President Trump signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion relief package to help Americans suffering the effects of COVID-19. The “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act” includes monies to support individual citizens, small business owners, and the healthcare industry, among others. Here is the breakdown of how this money will be spent to support our vital medical economy, along with some of the key changes that will improve care delivery:
- A sizable $100 billion is reserved for hospitals responding in the COVID-19 crisis, including an emergency fund and a 20% increase in Medicare reimbursement for hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients
- Veterans healthcare services will receive $20 billion
- The Strategic National Stockpile will be given $16 billion to increase production of medical equipment such as ventilators and masks.
- $11 billion will be given for vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will receive $4.3 billion for their programs and response efforts
- Community health centers will receive $1.32 billion to care for nearly 28 million patients
- $80 million will go to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to accelerate new drug approvals
- Barriers to telehealth will be loosened to expand the reach of virtual healthcare provider appointments, including some previous Medicare restrictions
- Insurers will be required to cover the cost of the vaccine, once available, without any cost-sharing, and they will need to cover costs associated with disease prevention measures
- The cost of testing and reimbursement will be more closely regulated
- Additional healthcare workers will be hired during this pandemic as the volume of patients increases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Congress.gov > S.3548 – CARES Act