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The U.S House of Representatives has just passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 the latest round of COVID-19 relief legislation which includes several key provisions affecting people with serious illness and those who care for them.

The bill will now be sent to the desk of President Joe Biden, where he is expected to sign it into law before unemployment insurance benefits run out on March 14.

“We applaud lawmakers for working together to find solutions for Americans who continue to be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says C-TAC Executive Director Jon Broyles. “As vaccines roll out and variants spread, the landscape of this emergency is constantly evolving. C-TAC will continue to advocate for policies that ensure people with serious illness, who are especially vulnerable to complications from COVID-19, receive the support they need.”

Key measures in the legislation that affect people with serious illness include:

  • $8.5 billion in financial assistance for rural health care providers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including home health, hospice, and long-term services and supports providers
  • ~$12 billion in additional federal spending on Medicaid home-and-community based supports (HCBS)
  • ~$140 million to support health care providers’ mental health and emotional well-being
  • $1.4 billion in funding for programs authorized under the Older Americans Act, including support for nutrition programs, community-based support programs and the National Family Caregiver Support Program
  • Extension of the FEMA Funeral Assistance program for COVID-19-related deaths that have occurred or will occur at any time during the declared public health emergency
  • $7.6 billion for Community Health Centers
  • $10 billion to replenish reserves of medical supplies and equipment through the Defense Production Act 
  • $37 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program for low-income seniors
  • $7.5 billion to track, administer and distribute COVID-19 vaccines
  • $46 billion for diagnosing and tracing coronavirus infections
  • Direct payments of $1,400 for individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000

As future policies are crafted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, C-TAC will continue to advocate for the needs of people with serious illness and their families, especially those who have been historically overlooked and mistreated by our healthcare system. We look forward to working with our partners in Congress and the Biden Administration in support of the sickest and most vulnerable among us.

For a full summary of the legislation, click here. The full text of the bill is available here. To learn more about C-TAC’s legislative and regulatory efforts, please contact Policy & Advocacy Manager Davis Baird at DBaird@theCTAC.org and visit our Policy page.

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