COVID-19: Senate Updates Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Full summary available here.

On March 25, 2020, the Senate released an updated version of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – a package of bills intended to strengthen the federal government and health care system’s response to COVID-19, as well as provide economic relief to individuals and businesses. The House is expected to take up the package, though the timing of a vote is unclear.

Snapshot – Senate package includes:

  • A $340 billion “surge” in emergency funding to support the U.S. response to COVID-19 (Division B);
  • Measures to address supply shortages of medical products, prescription drugs, and medical devices (Title III, Subtitle A, Part I);
  • Provisions that would require private payers to cover certain COVID-19 diagnostic tests (Title III, Subtitle A, Part II)
  • Support for health care providers, including grant funding (Title III, Subtitle A, Part II);
  • Changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules, which would allow a covered entity to share a patient’s records relating substance use disorder for the purposes of treatment, payment, and health care operations after consent is given (Title III, Subtitle A, Part II);
  • Additional flexibilities to Medicare telehealth requirements (Title III, Subtitle D);
  • Limitations on paid leave (Title III, Subtitle C); and
  • Provisions to provide economic relief to business through tax credits and loans (Title II)

Of note, the inclusion of several “health care extenders” that would reauthorize certain Medicare, Medicaid, and public health programs through Nov. 30, 2020 (which were originally set to expire on May 22, 2020) would likely postpone congressional action on surprise medical billing and prescription drug pricing to the end of the year.

Our complete and comprehensive summary of the major health provisions included in the package as well as a recounting of major appropriation amounts for related human services initiatives – is available here

Alyssa Llamas has a diverse background in health policy and public health, with seven years of experience in government, research