COVID-19 RELIEF PACKAGE NEARING THE FINISH LINE.
SENATE PASSES COVID-19 RELIEF PACKAGE. On March 6, 2021, the Senate passed its version of the American Rescue Plan of 2021 after a painfully long process. The process ground to a halt while Democrats worked with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) on the unemployment provision. The bill was approved on a party line vote, 50-49. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) was not present and voting because his father-in-law passed away. This meant that Vice President Harris was not needed to break the tie. The bill will return to the House where passage is expected early this week and then on to President Biden’s desk. There were a few noteworthy changes in the final Senate bill compared to the House passed bill and earlier versions of the Senate bill. These changes include:
- Additional $8.5 billion in Provider Relief Fund look-a-like funding for rural providers that serve Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. (This is an update from both the House-passed version and the original Senate version.)
- Includes a 10% Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) bump for home and community based (HCBS) services. (This is an increase from 7.35% increase in FMAP for HCBS in the House passed and the original Senate version.)
- Provides a 100% subsidy for COBRA premiums. (This is an increase from an 85% subsidy included in the House-passed version and original Senate version.)
- Provides $350 billion to states, localities and tribes. Of those funds. State governments would receive $220 billion and local governments would receive approximately $130 billion. The state and local funding will be available until December 31, 2024. (This is an update from not having a deadline to spend the money that was included in the House-passed version.)
- Eliminates the Medicaid cap on the total rebate amount starting January 1, 2024. (This is a one year delay from the House-passed version.)
- Excludes all provisions relating to minimum wage. (This is an update from the House-passed version.)
The House is expected to vote on the Senate-passed version on Tuesday, and then it will head to the President’s desk for signature.
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