FEMA may no longer reimburse states for COVID-19 supplies: report

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency may no longer provide reimbursements to states and local governments for personal protective equipment and other COVID-19 supplies, The Hill reported. 

A spokesperson for the National Governors Association told The Hill that regional administrators for FEMA indicated in conversations with state officials that a change in reimbursement may be coming, though no official documents have been issued. 

FEMA did not respond to The Hill's request for comment. 

FEMA currently reimburses state and local governments for 75 percent of the costs of PPE and disinfectants. 

In a letter written to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor dated Aug. 25, the NGA, National Conference of State Legislatures and other groups argued that the proposed changes to PPE coverage "continues a troubling pattern of shifting costs and responsibilities onto states and localities when they can least afford it." 

Under the federal government's national emergency declaration for COVID-19, states and local governments can request reimbursement from FEMA for goods and services needed to respond to the pandemic. States and local officials still need assistance from the government to face unprecedented costs of trying to contain the pandemic, The Hill reported. 

"PPE is a fundamental need for all COVID-19 related operations and is the definition of an ‘emergency protective measure.' Shifting policy guidance in the middle of a pandemic is impractical, causes confusion, and disrupts operations in states and localities," the letter to Mr. Gaynor says. 

The letter suggested the potential change may be because the government is now allowing states access to $44 billion of FEMA's disaster relief fund to provide extra unemployment benefits to people who lost their jobs because of COVID-19, according to The Hill. 

The letter argues that Congress should provide new funding for unemployment benefits rather than using funding from FEMA's disaster relief fund. 

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