On March 6, the president signed an $8.3 billion funding bill for COVID-19-related activities for the United States and abroad. The House and Senate had quickly passed the bill on Wednesday and Thursday.
The package provides an additional $7.7 billion in discretionary funding and authorizes more than $400 million in mandatory spending by removing certain restrictions on Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine. The bill appropriates $2.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the CDC funds, $1 billion will go to state and local preparedness and response grant programs and will reach the entities within 30 days. The CDC funds will also be used for global health security and the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Fund.
The bill appropriates $3.1 billion to the Office of the Secretary for Preparedness and Response. These funds will be used to procure medical supplies for the Strategic National Stockpile; to research and develop vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostic testing, and to improve access to such products; and to support community health centers. The bill also supports the National Institutes of Health in developing vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics, as well as the Food and Drug Administration to monitor and mitigate product shortages, among other things. Additionally, the bill appropriates $1.25 billion for the Department of State and USAID for international issues related to the coronavirus. Finally, the bill waives telehealth requirements to help ensure Medicare beneficiaries can receive care at home rather than placing themselves and others at risk while attempting to seek care.