WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Senate Republicans released their Phase III coronavirus response package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) served on the Health task force and was a leading voice for health care policy in the stimulus bill.
“Congress and President Trump are committed to helping Americans through this difficult time. The CARES Act addresses economic and health-related needs. Passage will immediately benefit Americans’ physical and financial health,” said Dr. Cassidy, a member of the Finance and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committees. “If more is needed to respond to coronavirus, Congress will pass another bill. We are all in this together.”
Cassidy, a doctor with a background in public health and immunizations, secured a number of his health care-related priorities to address health care and education issues that will affect Americans during the coronavirus outbreak. These priorities included:
Sec. 4413 – Superbugs: Creates a separate payment structure for certain antibiotics used to treat “superbugs,” which will help coronavirus patients who experience secondary infections.
Sec. 4122 – Prevents Drug Shortages: 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.
Sec. 4403 – Primary Care: Strain on the health care system is resulting in physician access shortages in every state. The Primary Care Enhancement Act, written by Cassidy and a bipartisan group of senators, allows patients with high deductible health plans (HDHP) and health savings accounts to enroll in or pay for a direct primary care membership, which allows patients to reach doctors anytime via call, text, email and video chat.
Secs. 4404-4405 – Telehealth: These sections expand patients’ access and Medicare coverage for telehealth services in 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.
Sec. 4126 – 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.
Sec. 4508 – 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.
Sec. 4509 – Satisfactory Progress: Students’ grades do not affect federal academic requirements for Pell grants or student loans those students dropped out because of coronavirus.
Sec. 4510 – 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.
Sec. 4511 – National Emergency Educational Waivers: This gives the Secretary of Education the ability to waive Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act requirements regarding assessments, such as annual state testing, during the coronavirus response.
More information about the full CARES Act, including bill text, can be found here.