Last Week Was a Busy One for the House. On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (R. 6800), which invests nearly $3 trillion in testing capacity, workforce development and economic recovery. The bill would allocate an additional $100 billion for the Provider Relief Fund and establish specific guidelines for how the funds should be distributed. It also provides $75 billion to state, local and tribal health departments to support testing, contact tracing and other efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Other key provisions would increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage by 14% from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021; boost Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital allotments by 2.5%; and block the Administration from finalizing the Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation, a controversial new rule proposed in November 2019, during the public health emergency.
What Comes Next? The HEROES Act represents an ambitious wish list for Democrats and is not likely to be considered in the Senate. The upper chamber is unlikely to vote on anything other than a final deal, the timing and content of which is still unclear. As states across the country begin to lift stay-at-home orders, some in Congress are turning their attention entirely to reopening with less of a focus on immediate recovery measures. For the chamber to act on another emergency relief bill, economic and public health conditions at the state level will have to demand it. When Congress gets stronger signals from the states of their need for federal funds to keep state infrastructures in place, Congress will act.
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