The Senate passed the $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan on Saturday, with amendments, the most important being no plan to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour.

The US bailout also does not include funding for hospital relief or canceling loans, which was not in the House bill but was requested by the American Hospital Association.

“The AHA is disappointed that the bill does not provide more overall funding for the Provider Relief Fund, which has been crucial in providing resources to hospitals, health systems and other providers during the pandemic. “said Rick Pollack, President and CEO of AHA. “We are also concerned that this bill does not include an extension of the Medicare escrow cut relief, which will come into effect early next month, nor does it provide for the cancellation of Medicare. loan for Medicare Expedited Payments for Hospitals. ”

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

The AHA wanted more relief funds to help offset losses suffered during the pandemic, such as the $ 100 billion earmarked for hospitals in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The legislation includes provisions to help hospitals and health systems deliver care to their patients and communities, Pollack said. These include measures to increase access to health coverage for those who lose their insurance or are uninsured. It is also making essential investments to strengthen the country’s response to COVID-19, with resources for vaccines, treatment, testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment and workforce development. .

In addition, the bill expands eligibility and provides more resources for the paycheck protection program, which has saved hospital jobs, he said.

“It is important to note that the bill will help bring much-needed relief to rural hospitals, many of which have entered the pandemic on the verge of closure but play an indispensable role in providing care to their communities,” said Pollack said.

WHAT THE BILL DOES

The Senate vote on Saturday was along party lines, 50-49.

Speaking on Saturday, President Biden said the promised aid was on its way. The United States has lost 519,064 Americans to the virus, he said.

The bill includes funding for more vaccinations and vaccination sites, Biden said.

“Resources from this plan will be used to expand and accelerate vaccine manufacturing and distribution so that we can get every American immunized as soon as possible,” Biden said.

There will be enough vaccine to immunize every American by mid-May, although it will take longer to get shots fired, Biden said.

Unemployment benefits were expanded for 11 million Americans whose unemployment insurance was about to expire.

The US bailout is cutting health premiums, Biden said.

“This plan puts us on track to beat the virus,” Biden said.

The bill is now returning to the House for approval, which is expected on Tuesday. He will then go to Biden for his signing ahead of a March 14 deadline to renew unemployment. Americans are expected to start receiving their $ 1,400 checks this month.

The legislation includes direct payments of up to $ 1,400 to most Americans, a weekly increase of $ 300 in unemployment benefits until September, and an extension of the child tax credit for one year. It is also investing new funds in the distribution and testing of COVID-19 vaccines, rental assistance for struggling households and K-12 schools for reopening costs, according to CNBC.

THE BIGGEST TREND

Biden said last week that all Americans who want to get vaccinated should be able to get one by the end of May, two months ahead of schedule.

This is largely due to a Partnership Between Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccine has just received emergency use authorization, Merck and the federal government are speeding up manufacture of the COVID-19 vaccine by opening its manufacturing facilities to J&J.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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