Today, the U.S. Congress passed and the President signed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It includes more than $2 trillion in spending and tax breaks to help the economy and health care providers respond to the pandemic.
ANA has been aggressively pushing Congress and the Administration to do something about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). Thankfully, the legislation provides $1.5 billion to States for the equipment, contact tracing to identify additional cases, and other public health preparedness and response activities. Additionally, it provides $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) for critical medical supplies, including more PPE, and life-saving medicine.
Additional details of the agreement include:
- $150 billion for hospitals and health providers
- $1,200 checks for middle class Americans
- $150 billion for states and local governments
- $500 billion for loan guarantees for businesses
- $350 billion for small businesses to maintain payroll
- Reauthorizes Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs
- Authorizes NPs and CNS’ to certify home health care for their patients
- Includes United States Public Health Service Modernization – Ready Reserve Corps to respond to public health and national emergencies.
Congressional leaders have indicated there will be additional supplemental packages to come in the following weeks. ANA will continue to be engaged with Congress and the Administration about priorities for nurses in the upcoming packages. Some areas that need to be addressed are:
- Prioritize treatment of nurses, and other frontline health care providers who contract COVID-19, so those individuals can go back to work as soon as possible.
- Instruct all manufacturers of respirators providing equal or higher protection as N95s, such as N99 or N100 filtering facepieces, reusable elastomeric respirators with appropriate filters or cartridges, or powered air purifying respirators, to sell their supply to health care facilities at fair market value.
- Retrofit or repurpose closed or currently running manufacturing plants and put individuals back to work by manufacturing more PPE in the United States.
- Require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide science-based information on the transmission of the virus so that nurses can make the best decision on the appropriate level of protection.
- Require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop reporting requirements to better track shortages of PPE.
As we continue to move forward, ANA will continue to provide updates on what Congress is doing to address COVID-19.