President-elect Joe Biden announced a $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” on Jan. 14 proposing to provide additional resources to combat the COVD-19 pandemic, facilitate economic recovery, and promote racial justice. The president-elect stated that this is the first of two plans he will propose. He plans to release the second, which will focus on investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, innovation, research and development, and clean energy, at the first Joint Session of Congress.
In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), noted, “With the COVID-rescue package the President-elect announced today, he is moving swiftly to deliver that help and to meet the needs of the American people...We will get right to work to turn President-elect Biden’s vision into legislation that will pass both chambers and be signed into law.”
AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, issued a statement on Jan. 15 thanking the incoming Biden administration for introducing this plan and urging Congress to quickly pass the package. “The health care workforce and researchers at the nation’s teaching hospitals and medical schools are being pushed to the limit as they continue to define the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is crucial to pass legislation that ensures health care providers and scientists have the resources necessary to serve patients and communities during this public health crisis.
Some key components of the American Rescue Plan include:
Testing and Vaccinations
- $20 billion for a national vaccination program in partnership with states, localities, Tribes, and territories.
- Expand the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage to 100% for the administration of vaccines.
- $50 billion to expand SARS-CoV-2 testing, including funds to purchase rapid tests and to expand lab capacities.
- Funding for 100,000 new state and local public health workers to conduct vaccine outreach and contact tracing before transitioning to long-term community health roles.
Patient Access to Care
- Extending subsidized COBRA coverage through the end of September.
- Expand and increase the value of the Premium Tax Credit to decrease or eliminate health insurance premiums and ensure enrollees will not pay more than 8.5% of their income for coverage.
- $20 billion for health care provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- $4 billion to enable the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to mental health and substance use disorder services.
Funding for State and Local Governments
- $350 billion in emergency funding to state, local, and territorial governments to support pandemic response efforts.
Addressing Health Disparities
- Funding to expand COVID-19 health services to underserved populations, including on Tribal lands and through Community Health Centers.
Research and Surveillance
- Funding to increase SARS-CoV-2 sequencing, surveillance, and outbreak analytics capacities to quickly identify new strains.
- Funding to support development, manufacturing, and purchase of COVID-19 therapeutics.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Supplies
- $30 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund for PPE and supplies for frontline workers.
- $10 billion to expand domestic manufacturing for pandemic supplies, as part of full utilization of the Defense Production Act.
- An additional $35 billion for the Higher Education Relief Fund directed towards public institutions and public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities.