Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe / Getty Images
En español | Hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers and other medical providers are slated to share in $100 billion in federal funds to help them get the equipment and added staff they need to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, under the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which the president signed Friday afternoon.
The $100 billion would help pay for masks, gloves, face shields, ventilators, testing supplies, increased medical personnel, new construction to house patients and other public health infrastructure needed to combat the coronavirus.
Under the measure, when hospitals treat Medicare patients infected with the coronavirus, their payments for that care would be increased by 20 percent, including for any inpatient care that beneficiaries require. The bill also includes a requirement that Medicare Part D plans agree to provide 90-day refills to members.
“A Marshall Plan for the American medical system is now underway,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor on Wednesday, referring to the Western Europe rebuilding effort after World War II.
"Our nation needed us to go big, and go fast,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also said in Senate remarks supporting the bill.
AARP stands “ready to work with Congress and the administration on further measures to protect Americans, especially seniors in nursing homes and other at-risk facilities, and address the health impacts of this terrible disease,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, applauding lawmakers for the latest bipartisan agreement.
In addition to the money that would be funneled to health care facilities and professionals who are responding to the coronavirus, the measure includes $27 billion to support research and technology related to the development of vaccines that could thwart the virus and for therapies and diagnostic tests needed to prevent or treat the effects of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by this coronavirus. The measure also would guarantee that if a vaccine becomes available, Medicare enrollees and Americans with private health insurance would all have access to it.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services received not less than $100 million to help ensure safety in our nation's nursing homes, including infection control to prevent the spread of coronavirus in these facilities. One of the initial worst outbreaks of the virus was centered in a nursing home in Washington state.
“We support this provision, which AARP requested, to provide additional resources to state survey agencies for important oversight and enforcement of nursing home safety and quality,” Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer, said this week in a letter to House members and senators.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on March 26, 2020. It has been updated to include the president signing the bill.