The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to affect millions of lives and every aspect of the US economy. After months of debate and discussion, Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that was attached to the $1.4 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (H.R 133). H.R. 133 funds the government through the end of the current fiscal year (September 30, 2021); the COVID-19 provisions deliver additional aid to businesses, provide a $300 per week increase in unemployment insurance benefits, and direct $600 stimulus payments to certain Americans. The bill also provides targeted relief for healthcare providers and further funds vaccine and testing distribution. Additionally, the massive bill served as a vehicle for dozens of non-COVID-19-related healthcare provisions.
Highlights from the healthcare provisions include:
- Provider relief, including additional funds for the Provider Relief Fund, a three-month extension of sequester relief, and mitigation of anticipated cuts to physician payments
- Funds for testing, tracing and vaccine distribution
- Changes to Medicare policies
- Improvements to rural facility reimbursement
- Extension of Medicare, Medicaid and public health programs
- Provisions barring surprise billing and establishing new transparency requirements
- Delays to scheduled disproportionate share hospital cuts.
This legislation passed the House and Senate on December 21, 2020, by votes of 327-85 and 92-6, respectively. President Trump signed the bill six days later, on December 27th after expressing dissatisfaction with the amount of relief to individuals and families, among other things, asking that Congress increase the $600 stimulus checks to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families. House Democrats approved a separate bill providing the additional stimulus money consistent with the President’s request, but a companion was not approved by the Senate before this Congress concluded.
This article offers an overview of the major federal healthcare program provisions in these packages. It is not an exhaustive summary of all the health care provisions in the legislation.
- Text of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021
- House Ways and Means Committee Summary of Provisions
- House Appropriations Committee Division-by-Division Summary of COVID-19 Relief Provisions
- House Appropriations Committee Division-by-Division Summary of Authorizing Matters
- House Appropriations Committee Division-by-Division Summary of Appropriations Provisions
- M+ COVID-19 Resource Center
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For more information, contact Meg Gilley, Sheila Madhani, Mara McDermott, Kristen O’Brien, Jessica Roth, Rachel Stauffer, Katie Waldo, Rodney Whitlock or Eric Zimmerman.