Congress agrees on $900B COVID-19 relief package, $1.4 trillion funding deal: 7 things to know

Congressional leaders have reached an agreement on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package and $1.4 trillion government funding deal with several healthcare provisions, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Here are seven things to know about the relief aid and funding deal: 

1. Congressional leaders have yet to release text of the COVID-19 legislation, but have shared a few key details on the measure, according to CNBC. Becker's breaks down the information that has been released thus far. 

2. The COVID-19 package includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, about $9 billion for vaccine distribution and about $22 billion to help states with testing, tracing and other COVID-19 mitigation programs, according to Politico.

3. Lawmakers are also expected to include a provision changing how providers can use their relief grants. In particular, the bill is expected to allow hospitals to calculate lost revenue by comparing budgeted revenue for 2020. Hospitals have said this tweak will allow them to keep more funding. 

4. The agreement also allocates $284 billion for a new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans. 

5. The COVID-19 relief bill also provides $600 stimulus checks to Americans earning up to $75,000 per year and $600 for their children, according to NBC. It also provides a supplemental $300 per week in unemployment benefits.

6. The year-end spending bill includes a measure to ban surprise billing. Under the measure, hospitals and physicians would be banned from charging patients out-of-network costs their insurers would not cover. Instead, patients would only be required to pay their in-network cost-sharing amount when they see an out-of-network provider, according to The Hill. The agreement gives insurers 30 days to negotiate a payment on the outstanding bill. After that period, they can enter into arbitration to gain higher reimbursement. 

7. Lawmakers plan to pass the relief bill and federal spending bill Dec. 21. 

To read our latest coverage on the deal, including 10 things hospital leaders should know about the bill, click here. 

More articles on healthcare finance:
Chicago's Mercy Hospital can't close, Illinois regulators say
States short billions in funding needed for COVID-19 vaccinations
Healthcare spending hits $3.8 trillion: 8 things to know

 

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