Beginning in early March, Congress, including our U.S. Representatives Tony Cárdenas, Brad Sherman and U.S. Senator’s Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris has passed several comprehensive COVID-19 stimulus bills which were then signed by the President of the United States (POTUS). These stimulus bills have helped provide financial assistance to Americans, including but not limited to: workers, community health centers (CHCs) and hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
H.R. 6074 Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act
On March 6, 2020, Congress passed and the POTUS signed H.R. 6074, an $8.3 billion emergency funding package which included $100 million in emergency funding for CHCs. These funds were awarded to NEVHC and its fellow CHCs as grants administered by the Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA). NEVHC used the emergency funds provided by the first stimulus package to continue expanding the healthcare services we provide to our patients, including but not limited to increased COVID-19 testing, and purchasing personal protective equipment and medical supplies to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and patients.
H.R. 748 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act
NEVHC joined a coalition of CHC advocates including the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), the California Primary Care Association (CPCA) and the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles (CCALAC) to implement a robust and strategic advocacy effort telling our federal policymakers that although we appreciated the emergency funding provided in the first stimulus package, it was not enough to continue to keep our doors open to our patients. As a result of these advocacy efforts, on March 27, 2020 Congress passed and the POTUS signed the CARES Act, a $3 trillion stimulus package which included $1.32 billion in emergency funding for CHCs, $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which offers federally supported, no-fee forgivable loans for small businesses and non-profit organizations with up to 500 employees. Additionally, the CARES Act provided an extension of mandatory funding for the health center program through November 30, 2020.
H.R. 6800 Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, (HEROES) Act
NEVHC and CHC advocates throughout the nation continued to urge Congress to provide additional funding for CHCs in the next stimulus package. Through strong advocacy efforts including phone calls, letters and e-mails to legislators, the House of Representatives, including our local Representatives Tony Cárdenas and Brad Sherman voted to support and pass the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion stimulus package to continue providing much needed relief to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives Tony Cárdenas and Brad Sherman have been excellent health care champions in support of NEVHC and CHCs. In addition to voting in favor of the HEROES Act, they signed on in support of a letter led by Representative Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) and Raul Ruiz (CA-36) urging House and Senate leadership to support the HEROES Act, funding and provisions that support CHCs.
Some of the provisions in the HEROES Act which are important to NEVHC include but are not limited to:
• $7.6 billion – Emergency Funding for FQHCs
• $100 billion – Health Care Provider Relief Fund
• $75 billion – National Testing and Contact Tracing Initiative
• Additional funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) Women Infant Children Program (WIC) and other nutrition programs
• Expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program loans to include non-profit organizations of any size, with 25% of remaining funds set aside exclusively for non-profit organizations.