On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, a legislative package to help fund vaccinations, provide immediate relief to families during the COVID-19 pandemic, increase COVID-19 testing and identify new and emerging strains of COVID-19. The final bill includes several sources of funding for COVID-19 response and other healthcare programs:
Development of a national vaccination program
- The bill includes $20 billion for a nationwide vaccination program, in partnership with state and local authorities. The vaccination program will include the creation of community vaccination centers as well as mobile vaccination units. Under the plan, the Biden Administration will work with Congress to expand the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to 100%, to ensure all Medicaid enrollees will be vaccinated.
Expand COVID-19 testing
- The American Rescue Plan will invest $50 billion into COVID-19 testing. This will provide for purchases of rapid tests, allow for the expansion of lab capacity, help schools and local governments implement COVID-19 testing protocols, and develop and manufacture COVID-19 tests. The funds will also be used to implement a national testing strategy which includes contract tracing, surveillance, and mitigation.
Identify and address new strains of COVID-19
- The bill provides for $1.75 billion to increase activity related to COVID-19 genomic sequencing, analytics, and disease surveillance. This will allow for the identification of COVID-19 mutations and emerging strains, surveillance of the strains, and development of COVID-19 response strategies.
Investment in treatments for COVID-19
- COVID-19 treatments are still currently unreliable and generally inaccessible. Therefore, the bill includes $500 million to be used for the evaluation of performance, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 related therapeutics, vaccines, and diagnostics. This funding will also be used in the oversight of supply, distribution, and mitigation of shortages of COVID-19 treatments authorized for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Expansion of healthcare coverage
- Millions of individuals lost employer sponsored health insurance between March and September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill requires Congress to subsidize the continuation of health coverage (COBRA) through September 2021. The bill also asks Congress to increase the Premium Tax Credit to reduce or eliminate health insurance premiums to guarantee that enrollees, including those who never had employer sponsored health insurance, will pay no more than 8.5 percent of their income for health insurance coverage.
For over 35 years, Wachler & Associates has represented healthcare providers and suppliers nationwide in a variety of health law matters, and our attorneys can assist providers and suppliers in understanding new regulations. If you or your healthcare entity has any questions pertaining to healthcare compliance, please contact an experienced healthcare attorney at 248-544-0888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.