Most of you have likely been watching as the government passed the $2 Trillion COVID-19 relief package known as the CARES Act. Much of the focus has been on the $1200 one-time cash payment to individuals ($2400 for married couples) and $500 per child that’s going to be made. Not to mention other small business grants, loans, unemployment insurance, and the $500 billion in loans for large corporations.
As the CARES Act was passed, there was already mention that this is probably just the first effort by the US government to help the nation amidst the pandemic. As one person aptly pointed out, this is a relief package which differs from the ARRA stimulus bill we had previously. It’s designed to provide relief which is different than trying to stimulate the economy. Don’t be surprised if a future stimulus package is passed as well as support for local government organizations, but time will tell. There are some that think that this type of spending is a problem and one representative almost hijacked the CARES Act because of it.
Along with the items mentioned above, the CARES Act includes money for a number of areas of healthcare. Here’s the summary from the NPR article mentioned above:
Hospitals: There is $100 billion for hospitals responding to the coronavirus.
Community health centers: The bill provides $1.32 billion in immediate additional funding for community centers that provide health care services for roughly 28 million people.
Drug access: There is $11 billion for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. The bill also includes $80 million for the Food and Drug Administration to prioritize and expedite approval of new drugs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC programs and response efforts are getting $4.3 billion.
Veterans’ health care: There is $20 billion set aside for veterans.
Telehealth: The bill reauthorizes a critical telehealth program to extend the reach of virtual doctors appointments.
Medicine and supplies: The bill gives $16 billion to the Strategic National Stockpile to increase availability of equipment, including ventilators and masks. It also boosts hiring for vital health care jobs during the public health crisis and speeds the development of a vaccine, treatments and faster diagnostic.
As is always the case with government spending like this, the devil is always in the details. However, hopefully this gives you a small flavor of the funding healthcare will receive thanks to the CARES Act.
UPDATE: Check out this update from HIMSS that does a more detailed analysis of all the funding that could impact healthcare.