The federal government is currently taking a number of measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March 13, 2020 the President of the United States issued a proclamation on declaring a national emergency concern on the coronavirus outbreak. The national emergency announcement includes suspension of entry to foreign nationals into the United States who have been in specific jurisdictions where the virus has been prominent. A governmental task force led by VP Mike Pence has been created in response to the outbreak and is made up of the Administration. Additionally, there has been the first testing of a corona virus vaccine. More information from the Administration will be forthcoming.
On March 14, 2020 the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which guarantees free coronavirus testing, establishes paid leave, enhances Unemployment Insurance, expands food security initiatives, and increases federal Medicaid funding. The bill appropriates:
- $500 million to the Woman Infants and Children (WIC) program;
- $400 million to assist local food banks; $82 million for the Department of Defense to cover diagnostic testing;
- $15 million to the IRS to implement tax credit for paid sick and paid family medical leave;
- $250 million for the Senior Nutrition program to provide meals to low-income seniors who are home-bound;
- $1 billion for the National Disaster Medical System to reimburse the costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing and services provided to the uninsured.
Of note, Division F of the current bill covers health provisions that include waiving cost-sharing in Medicare Part B for provider visits related to COVID-19. It also provides that Medicaid provide coverage for all COVID-19 diagnostic testing, coverage for personal respiratory protective devices, coverage for veterans enrolled in TRICARE, and an increase in state federal medical assistance percentage for the duration of the public emergency.
As of March 16, 2020 the Senate has not yet received the House-passed bill and has not yet voted on the floor.
For up-to-date information on virus resources please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
For information on CMS’ Fee-For-Service COVID-19 response: CMS Press Release
For information on nursing home guidelines: CMS Press Release and CMS Clinical Standards