Senate Republicans Introduce Coronavirus Relief Legislation

Senate Republicans Introduce Coronavirus Relief Legislation

The Senate has release their latest version of a coronavirus relief bill.  This bill has been dubbed the “skinny bill” because it has pared down the original HEALS Act from the beginning of August.  The Senate is still working to reach enough support that it could pass out of the Senate.  The House has stated that in it’s current form, this legislation is a non starter and they will not be taking it up should it pass the Senate.  With that in mind, we are still waiting to see if negotiations will pick up between the Whitehouse and Speaker Pelosi.

Below you can find the relevant points from this legislation:

  • It looks like the bill includes the entire “SAFE TO WORK Act”, which creates federal medical liability standards and a federal cause of action for medical malpractice cases, as well as protections for non-medical businesses and entities.
  • $31 billion for the provider relief fund; extends deadline for spending appropriated money to September 30, 2021.
  • $16 billion for testing, contact tracing and surveillance.
  • The PPP program is extended for a second round of loans for businesses with fewer than 300 employees who can demonstrate a 35% reduction in gross revenue in any quarter in 2020 relative to the same 2019 quarter as opposed to 50%. The loan would be calculated at 2.5 times average monthly payroll costs up to $2 million.  Eligible uses are expanded to include paying for cost of necessary supplies like PPE, plexiglass windows, etc. and certain other operational expenses related to protecting workers.  There does not appear to be any additional funds for the program, however, just what is currently available.  The bill simplifies the applications process for borrowers receiving $150,000 or less.
  • Short-term assistance to child care providers so that parents have a safe place to send their children as they return to work. The $5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant  and $10 billion for Back to Work Child Care Grants can be utilized by workers deemed essential during the coronavirus pandemic
  • $300 per week expanded unemployment benefits to replace the $600 per week expired benefits through the end of the year.

While this legislation hits a few topics that LeadingAge has been advocating for, it does not include many items that the long-term care sector is in need of.  Some of these items are :

  • No telehealth provisions.  However the additional $31 billion for Provider Relief (Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund) does allow providers to utilize the funds for telehealth access and infrastructure.
  • No nursing home or other aging services specific provisions; the elder justice reauthorization act was not included; nor was funding for COVID-specific homes, QIOs, etc. (these provisions were in HEALS)
  • No low income housing provisions at all.
  • No pandemic hazard pay (Heroes Fund) for essential workers (was not in the HEALS Act either).
  • No provisions that temporarily ease immigration-related restrictions to allow nurses and doctors access to the US during the COVID-19 crisis

We will send more information as this bill moves through the legislative process.



David Carter | Director, Health Care Finance & Policy

C 360.888.5702