GOP unveils $1 trillion COVID-19 relief package: 9 things to know

Republican senators July 27 officially unveiled their $1 trillion COVID-19 relief package, called the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act. 

Nine things to know about the bill:

1. The senators released a slew of individual GOP bills that are set to authorize about $1 trillion in new spending. Together, they are packaged as the HEALS Act. 

2. The HEALS Act contains $25 billion in new grant funding for healthcare providers. 

3. The new bill also contains a medical liability clause that shields businesses, physicians and universities from coronavirus-related lawsuits, except in the cases of "intentional misconduct." The protections would cover any coronavirus-related medical liability claims from Dec. 1, 2019 to Oct. 1, 2024.

4. In the GOP proposal, hospitals would get an extension to repay Medicare accelerated and advance payments, which were authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Under the proposal, providers would begin to repay loans on Jan. 1, 2021. In the CARES Act, the loan terms would require providers to start paying back these loans as early as August 2020.  

5. The bill extends telehealth flexibilities through 2021, or the end of the federal public health emergency. The flexibilities will last until whichever one occurs sooner. 

6. The bill allocates an additional $16 billion to expand coronavirus testing and tracing and $26 billion for COVID-19 vaccine development. 

7. The bill includes a narrower version of Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses. The aid is slated to go to companies with fewer than 300 employees where revenue has fallen by more than 50 percent during the pandemic. About $190 billion will be saved for this program. 

8. The proposal includes a new set of direct payments of $1,200 and $2,400 to individuals and couples, respectively. Eligibility remains the same as the first round of stimulus checks. 

9. The new relief bill provides laid-off workers up to 70 percent of their salaries, instead of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit.

More articles on healthcare finance:
HCA records $1B profit in Q2
Florida health system brings back 640 furloughed workers
Hospital margins could sink to a negative 7% this year: 5 things to know

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