March 18, 2020

Cortez Masto, Rosen Statement On Senate Passage of Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) issued the following statement after the Senate voted 90-8 in favor of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The legislation now heads to the President’s desk for signing.  

“We need immediate, decisive action to combat the coronavirus pandemic and mitigate its impact on working families. This legislation takes bold steps toward ensuring every American can access coronavirus testing free of charge. It also provides relief for workers who may find themselves out of a job, working reduced hours, or struggling to make ends meet, and secures much-needed food assistance for children, seniors, and low-income families. While more needs to be done to help small businesses and the workers in Nevada’s hardest-hit industries, we are pleased that Congress has acted quickly and in a bipartisan manner to address the threat of coronavirus. We’ll continue fighting to ensure Nevada gets the resources it needs to protect our public health and help vulnerable families stay afloat.”

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes:

Free Testing for Coronavirus –

  • A requirement that private health plans provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the cost of provider, urgent care center, and emergency room visits in order to receive testing. Coverage must be provided at no cost to the consumer;
  • A waiver of cost-sharing under Medicare for provider visits during which a COVID-19 diagnostic test is administered or ordered;
  • A requirement that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the cost of a provider visit in order to receive testing. Coverage must be provided at no cost to the beneficiary; 
  • $1 billion for the National Disaster Medical System to reimburse the costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing and services provided to individuals without health insurance;
  • $82 million for the Department of Defense to cover the costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing for beneficiaries receiving care through the Defense Health Program;
  • $64 million for the Indian Health Service to cover the costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing for Indians receiving care through the Indian Health Service or through an Urban Indian Health Organization;
  • $60 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover the costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing for veterans receiving care through Medical Services or through Medical Community Care.

 Expanded Food Assistance –

  • $500 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) to provide access to nutritious foods to low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children who lose their jobs or are laid off due to the COVID-19 emergency;
  • $400 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to assist local food banks to meet increased demand for low-income Americans during the emergency. Of the total, $300 million is for the purchase of nutritious foods and $100 million is to support the storage and distribution of the foods; 
  • $250 million for the Senior Nutrition program in the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to provide approximately 25 million additional home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors who depend on the Senior Nutrition programs in their communities;
  • A suspension of the work and work training requirement for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • A waiver that allows participants in the National School Lunch Program to take their meals to go.

 Relief for Workers –

  • A requirement that companies with fewer than 500 employees provide employees who are unable to work or telework with ten work days of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate for their own coronavirus illness/quarantine or to get tested for coronavirus, or at two-thirds their regular rate to care for a family member who is ill/quarantined due to coronavirus or for a child whose school has closed due to coronavirus;
  • Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act paid leave, totaling 12 weeks, for individuals who need to take care of a child home from school due to a closing;
  • $15 million for the Internal Revenue Service to implement tax credits for paid sick and paid family and medical leave;
  • $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.

 BACKGROUND:

Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen recently supported a bipartisan $8.3 billion coronavirus supplemental funding package in the Senate, which provided:

  • Over $3 billion for research, development, and review of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to help protect the health and safety of the American people;
  • Over $2 billion to help federal, state, local, and tribal governments prevent, prepare, and respond to the crisis;
  • $1.25 billion to combat coronavirus overseas to prevent and respond to wider spread of the virus;
  • Nearly $1 billion for health care preparedness including pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for public health agencies and safety net providers;
  • $1 billion in loan subsidies that would provide $7 billion in low-interest loans for small businesses impacted by financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak;
  • An emergency telehealth waiver to enable telehealth services during this public health emergency, allowing Medicare beneficiaries to receive care from physicians and other practitioners in their homes. This provision is estimated to cost $500 million over 10 years.

Yesterday, Senators Cortez Masto and Rosen announced the release of $6.5 million dollars by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support Nevada’s coronavirus response. The senators continue to exercise oversight on a host of issues related to coronavirus and its impact on Nevada communities including:

  • letter to the Department of Health and Human Services asking Secretary Azar to fulfill Governor Sisolak’s request for additional test kits.
  • letter to President Trump calling for an economic stimulus package focused on helping working Americans and their families, who will be most harmed by the outbreak and spread of COVID-19.
  • letter urging Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia to ensure the federal government’s response to coronavirus address the immediate and long-term needs of workers.
  • letter pressing the President’s Coronavirus Task Force for its preparedness and response plans for seniors and individuals with disabilities.
  • pair of letters to financial regulators and trade groups urging our nation’s financial sector to prepare for the likely impacts of the coronavirus and take steps to protect consumers who may suffer financially as a result of a coronavirus outbreak.