U.S. House Sends COVID-19 Bill to Senate

March 17, 2020

Late Monday the U.S. House passed by unanimous consent a technical revisions bill to the COVID-19 response package passed last Saturday by the chamber. The move clears the path for the Senate to take up the $8.3 billion dollar package, which is focused on providing paid sick leave and other policies intended to help American families, as well as public health provisions. The bill provides a 6.2% increase in the Federal Assistance Percentage Program (FMAP) for all states and territories.

According to House aides, the technical changes made included the Medicaid reimbursement and small business tax credit sections. The Senate is expected to consider the measure this week, although a vote has not yet been scheduled. Congress is already working on a third aid package. Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) requested Senators submit their ideas for the additional stimulus package by noon yesterday, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to announce a Democratic proposal as early as today to include more money for hospitals, expanded unemployment insurance, child care, assistance for seniors, and other priorities.

IHA continues to urge lawmakers to provide direct support to hospitals. On Monday, AHA sent a letter to Congress requesting "a comprehensive funding strategy to ensure that hospitals, health systems, physicians and nurses are viable and directly supported for preparedness and response." Specifically, the letter requested additional supplemental emergency funding of at least $1 billion to prepare and respond to the outbreak.