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President Trump has signed new legislation designed to address the needs of Americans during the spread of COVID-19. The bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act contains several provisions important for people living with serious illness and those who matter most to them, as well as the providers who continue to bravely deliver care to them on the frontlines.
Key provisions include:
- Increasing Provider Funding through Immediate Medicare Sequester Relief: The legislation prompts economic assistance to health care providers on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 virus, helping them to furnish needed care to affected patients. Specifically, it will temporarily lift the Medicare sequester, which reduces payments to providers by 2 percent, from May 1 through December 31, 2020, boosting payments for hospital, physician, nursing home, home health, and other care. The Medicare sequester would be extended by one-year beyond current law to provide immediate relief without worsening Medicare’s long-term financial outlook.
- New flexibilities for Hospice Recertification: While current rules require a face-to-face interaction between a patient and clinician in order to confirm the patient’s continued eligibility for hospice care, this bill will allow for the “face-to-face” interaction to be conducted via telehealth during this emergency.
- Direct aid: The bill allocates $100 billion for a new program to provide direct aid to health care institutions on the front lines of this emergency, including Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers and institutional providers.
- Funding to produce and distribute essential supplies: The legislation includes $16 billion to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile of supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE). It also allots $1 billion for the Defense Production Act, allowing industry to ramp up production of PPE, ventilators and other urgently needed supplies to provide high-quality care during this crisis. Additionally, the bill allocates $4.3 billion to support federal, state and local agencies in addressing this emergency, including the purchase of PPE for clinicians.
- Support for nursing homes: The bill allots $200 million for CMS to assist nursing homes in controlling infection and to support states’ efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes
- Funding for nutritional programs: This legislation also allots $450 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to assist food banks across the country during this emergency. TEFAP plays a critical role supplementing the diets of lower-income Americans, including the elderly.
- Funding for the aging network for community-based services: The bill includes $955 million for the Administration for Community Living programs serving older adults and individuals with disabilities. ‘‘Aging and Disability Services Programs’’ that are funded include services that help ensure that those with advanced and chronic illness are able to stay in their homes and receive the care that they prefer. The bill will pay for additional home delivered meals ($500 million), supportive services ($200 million), services for Native American Indians ($20 million), support services for family caregivers ($100 million), and elder rights protection activities, including the long-term ombudsman program for nursing homes and assisted living ($20 million). There is also $50 million for aging and disability resource centers to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
“C-TAC applauds lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for this demonstration of leadership and for their commitment to supporting Americans facing the spread of COVID-19, including those living with serious illness,” said C-TAC Executive Director Jon Broyles.
We look forward to continuing our work alongside our champions in Congress to advocate for the needs of people living with serious illness and those who matter most to them. For more information about C-TAC’s legislative and regulatory efforts, please contact Policy & Advocacy Manager Davis Baird at DBaird@theCTAC.org.