On Tuesday, April 21, the U.S. Senate approved a $484 billion coronavirus relief package aimed at reviving the depleted loan program for small businesses and providing funds for hospitals and coronavirus testing.  The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the legislation as soon as Thursday morning.

On top of the $100 billion allotted to hospitals and healthcare providers in the CARES Act, the pending legislation includes an additional $75 billion for healthcare providers to support COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue.  Eligible healthcare providers are public entities, Medicare or Medicaid enrolled suppliers and providers, and for-profit and not-for-profit entities that furnish testing and care for COVID-19 as HHS may specify.  HHS will review applications and make payments on a rolling basis, subject to possible additional guidance from the agency.  Funds appropriated may be used for building temporary structures, leasing properties, medical supplies and equipment, increased workforce and training emergency operation centers, retrofitting facilities, and surge capacity.

For the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, an additional $25 billion is allotted for necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests.  Of the $25 billion:

  • $11 billion is provided to states, localities, territories and tribes for necessary expenses related to COVID-19 testing.
  • $1 billion is allocated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for surveillance, epidemiology, expansion of laboratory capacity, contact tracing efforts, and public health data surveillance.
  • $1.8 billion is allotted to the National Institutes of Health to develop and implement COVID-19 testing, to accelerate research and development efforts, and for partnerships with government and non-government organizations.
  • $1 billion is provided for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for advanced research and development of COVID-19 tests and related supplies.
  • $22 million is allocated to the Food and Drug Administration to support testing activities, including diagnostic, serological and antigen testing, as well as related administrative functions.
  • $600 million is provided to the Health Resources and Services Administration – Primary Health Care for grants under the Health Centers program and for grants to federally qualified health centers.
  • $225 million is allotted to rural health clinics through grants or other mechanisms for COVID-19 testing and related expenses. The funds are also available for construction of temporary structures, leasing properties, and retrofitting facilities to support COVID-19 testing.
  • Up to $1 billion may be used to cover the costs of testing for the uninsured.

Norton Rose Fulbright attorneys will continue to provide relevant updates for healthcare providers on the Health Law Pulse during the COVID-19 public health crisis.