WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate passed the $8.3 billion Supplemental Coronavirus Spending bill that includes at least $15.6 million in immediate funding to help Ohio prepare for the coronavirus. The Trump administration initially only requested $1.25 billion in new money, all for federal agencies and nothing for states and local governments. Brown worked with his colleagues to ensure Ohio and local communities around the state have the funding they need to prevent and manage any potential cases of the coronavirus. The final package includes $8.3 billion in total funding, with $7.8 billion for immediate help to combat the coronavirus, and an additional $500 million authorization to enhance telehealth services. The State of Ohio will receive $15.6 million immediately to help the State and local public health departments prepare for the coronavirus, and more funding will be available for Ohio to apply to receive if the state needs additional support in the event of an outbreak. In addition, the Supplemental Coronavirus Spending bill includes millions for Community Health Centers and a significant investment in medical supplies and research and development for a vaccine. The Supplemental Funding bill now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
Brown also joined his Democratic colleagues earlier this week in demanding that Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar take immediate action to address the many ways the Trump Administration’s health care sabotage has undermined our preparedness for and ability to respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Specifically, the senators asked Secretary Azar to commit to making any potential coronavirus vaccine affordable to all, stop promoting junk plans that don’t cover the care necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, and stop promoting efforts to undermine Medicaid that jeopardize people’s health care. The Supplemental Coronavirus Spending bill includes language that would require vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics developed using taxpayer funds be available for purchase by the Federal government at a fair and reasonable price.
Brown has also spoken out about the fact that many hardworking Ohioans do not have access to paid sick days, and could therefore face a choice between staying home if they get sick, or going to work while ill in order to bring home a paycheck for their families. This is not only a public health issue, but also a dignity of work issue.
“One of my highest priorities is keeping Ohioans safe and healthy,” said Brown. “President Trump should sign this legislation immediately, so we can get Ohioans and people across the country the resources they need to combat and stop the spread of coronavirus.”
Brown continued, “We also need to remember we have millions of Americans with no paid sick days. My office has heard from workers asking us, ‘what do I do when I’m told to stay home when I’m sick, but that means losing a paycheck or losing my job?’ All workers need paid sick days. It’s a Dignity of Work issue and it’s a public safety issue.”
The Supplemental Funding bill includes the following:
- Formula grant funding for states;
- Funds to reimburse state and local governments for activities that have been going on so far;
- $500 million to procure pharmaceuticals, masks, protective equipment, and other medical supplies to distribute statewide and locally to ensure HHS can purchase materials in bulk, and distribute them to providers;
- $100 million for Community Health Centers;
- More than $3 billion for research, development and review of new vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to help protect the health and safety of Americans;
- $1.25 billion to support efforts to combat this public health threat overseas, prevent more cases from reaching the U.S., and help prevent further spread of the virus;
- Emergency authorization of certain Medicare telehealth services during the public health emergency;
- Up to $1 billion in loan subsidies and assistance for small businesses impacted by the outbreak;
- Funds to replenish the CDC Infectious Disease Rapid Response Fund, which helps send out CDC personnel and resources to local hotspots; and
- Funding to train local responders and surge bed capacity in hot spots.