Letter: Recapping some of the ways government has helped during the pandemic
What has your government done for you this year? Well, for starters: On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. The CARES Act contains a number of health-related provisions focused on the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, including paid sick leave, insurance coverage for coronavirus testing, nutrition assistance, support for small businesses, childcare, telehealth, economic stabilization, keeping workers employed and paid, and much more.
1. There are provisions to address COVID-19 issues related to drugs, devices, equipment and supply shortages in order to expedite approval, review and inspections of drugs and devices.
2. COVID–19 tests are covered by private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.
3. There are provisions to use telehealth services for Medicare and private insurance.
4. There is a re-authorization of programs to strengthen rural community health, the Healthy Start Program, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
5. $25 billion for domestic food assistance programs, the school breakfast and lunch programs, the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), and the emergency food assistance program.
6. $1 billion to purchase personal protective equipment and medical equipment, such as ventilators.
7. $4.9 billion for research and development of vaccines, antiviral pharmaceuticals and diagnostic tests.
8. $45 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund federal disaster response and assist local governments.
9. $4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for coronavirus activities.
10. $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support virus research.
11. $425 million to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to address mental health needs.
12. $200 million to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for nursing homes.
13. $127 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and $100 billion to reimburse hospitals and other health care entities responding to the coronavirus.
14. $17 billion for the Veterans Health Administration to support medical care and services during the coronavirus response.
That is about $242 billion to provide health and economic support to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19. Next year, the approved infrastructure bill will kick in and hopefully Build Back Better Bill will pass to support struggling lower and middle income families and individuals. While not perfect, shouldn’t we be thankful for the ways our government has helped us during this pandemic?
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