WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) joined the majority of the Senate in passing the CARES Act – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – that provides $2 trillion in emergency assistance for American families and businesses.
“The Coronavirus epidemic has damaged our physical and our economic health. This bill supports the economic health of individuals, families and employers. It also advances the fight to make us safe from the disease,” said Dr. Cassidy.
Cassidy secured several legislative priorities in the package, including:
- $500 million to create a system the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can use to track coronavirus outbreak to assess risk level in communities across the country.
- Secured $300 million provided for Fishery Assistance, which is needed for shrimp and oyster producers who can no longer sell their products to restaurants, for charter fishery operators and other fishery-related entities that have economic revenue losses due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
- The Rapid Coverage for Coronavirus Vaccine Act, authored by Cassidy and Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), requires private health plans to cover coronavirus preventative services, like immunizations.
- Telehealth: Expanded patients’ access and Medicare coverage for telehealth services from federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics during the coronavirus outbreak. Cassidy began advocating for expanded telehealth services immediately after the virus began to spread in the United States.
- Good Samaritans: Cassidy’s Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act limits liability for health care professionals who volunteer to provide health care services in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
- Student Loan Flexibility: This provision allows students to drop college courses during the coronavirus national emergency without having to repay federal financial aid, including Pell grants and student loans. It also waives the requirement that higher learning institutions return money to the Department of Education for students who dropped out of school as a result of coronavirus.
- Satisfactory Progress: Students’ grades will not affect federal academic requirements for Pell grants or student loans if they dropped out because of coronavirus.
- Continuing Education at Foreign Universities: This allows foreign institutions to offer distance learning for the roughly 30,000 American students studying overseas during the coronavirus outbreak.
- National Emergency Educational Waivers: This gives the Secretary of Education the ability to waive Elementary and Secondary Education Act requirements regarding assessments, such as annual state testing, during the coronavirus response.
Highlights of the CARES Act include:
- $1,200 direct payments to individuals who earn less than $75,000 annually; $2,400 for families with a household income below $150,000; $500 per child.
- Four months of unemployment insurance for laid-off workers; raises maximum benefit by $600 per week. Applies to employees for large and small business, and self-employed and gig workers.
- $150 billion for health care system
- $367 billion in small businesses loans, which can be forgiven under certain parameters.
- $117 billion for hospitals and veterans’ health care.
- $45 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund
- $11 billion for vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and other medical needs
More information on Cassidy’s coronavirus response can be found at www.cassidy.senate.gov.