The Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan passed Congress and was signed into law. There are several provisions related to provider relief, the health care workforce, research and COVID-19 vaccination and testing included that will impact our profession.
- $7.25 billion in additional funds for PPP.
- $8.5 billion for rural health care providers enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to compensate for COVID-19 related losses or expenses.
- Rural floor established on the Medicare area wage index for hospitals in all-urban states.
Health care workforce
- $7.66 billion to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish, expand, and sustain a public health workforce, and make awards to state, local, and territorial public health departments.
- $100 million to the Medical Reserve Corps.
- $800 million for the National Health Service Corps.
- $330 million to expand the number of Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education sites.
- $100 million to the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program.
Testing and vaccination
- $48.3 billion for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing efforts and personal protective equipment.
- $7.5 billion to prepare, promote, administer, monitor and track COVID-19 vaccines.
- $350 billion for state and local government relief.
- $6.05 billion to HHS to support advanced research, development, manufacturing, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, and ancillary medical products utilized for treatment and prevention of COVID-19.
- COBRA premium assistance.
- $10 billion for the Defense Production Act — the purchase, production or distribution of medical supplies and equipment related to combatting COVID-19.
- $7.6 billion to Community Health Centers.
Our work is not done
While numerous policy issues were addressed in this legislative effort, several priority items failed to make the cut:
- Permanent telehealth flexibilities beyond the public health emergency.
- Medicare sequester relief.
- Revisions to Medicare Accelerated and Advanced Payments to providers.
- Addressing calendar year 2022 Medicare physician payment cuts fix.
- Additional Provider Relief Funds.
- Supplemental federal research funding.
We continue to meet with congressional offices on these issues, conveying the impact they have on you and your patients. Understanding the impact payment cuts would have on providers at this time, House Democrats have already introduced legislation to prevent future Medicare sequestration and PAYGO cuts, with the goal of swift advancement through the chamber and consideration in the Senate.
Your engagement is crucial to our advocacy success. Lawmakers need to hear from you, the voters, about these priority policy issues and how they impact your patients, practices, laboratories and communities.
Send a letter and urge your lawmaker for legislative action on these issues.
Participate in AGA’s Advocacy Day: Join us on April 22 for AGA’s Spring Virtual Advocacy Day. We will arrange virtual meetings with congressional offices to discuss several priority issues impacting our profession.