President Trump signed into law The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which is the third relief package for the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts. Earlier today, I voted in support of the bill. The legislation unanimously passed both the House and Senate.
I was proud to help write and pass the rescue package and to stand next to the President when he signed it into law. This package is not the first response to the COVID-19 pandemic, nor will it be the last. The American people expect us to set partisanship aside in times of crisis and do what’s best for the country and our constituents. That’s what we’re doing today.
We’re helping health care workers on the front lines back home get the personal protective equipment they need and the medicines and medical devices that will save the lives of their patients. We’re helping people who have lost their jobs get a lifeline. We’re helping our small businesses keep their workforce together. And we’re making record investments into finding treatments and a cure. We’re helping our state and local governments, too.
We’re all in this together, and with President Trump’s leadership, we’re all in this to win as fast as medically possible.
In order to prevent our health system from collapsing under the weight of this virus, we will provide unprecedented support for our nation’s health care providers, including $100 billion for hospitals, labs, doctors, and increased reimbursement for treating COVID-19 patients.
We will dramatically expand production and distribution of medical supplies, by providing liability protections through the PREP Act for respirator manufacturers, providing $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile to procure medical countermeasures, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), and ventilators, and providing $11 billion for the manufacturing, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other items to address the nation’s medical or preparedness needs.
The CARES Act opens up the fastest computers in the world at our National Labs for research and analysis related to the COVID-19 virus. We help EPA expedite the ability to get disinfectants to market more quickly to protect the public from COVID-19 and prevent its further spread. And in a volatile oil market, the CARES Act smartly delays a mandatory 2020 sale of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through 2022.
Included in this package are improvements to expand access to care through telehealth, including $200 million for the FCC for telehealth services and devices, and an expansion of telehealth services in the Medicare program.
The package also extends vital Medicare, Medicaid, and Public Health Programs — including Community Health Centers among many others until Nov. 30 of this year. The CARES Act also provides an additional $1.32 billion in supplemental funding to community health centers on the front lines of testing and treating patients in rural and underserved communities for COVID-19. The bill also prevents pending cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH).
And we are mobilizing the nation’s health workforce, by providing liability protections to those who provide volunteer medical services during the public health crisis, and by standing up the Ready Reserve Corps component of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to help address provider shortages across the nation.
And we take steps to protect our medical supply chain, something that I hope the Congress will continue to work on.
Today’s phase three approach is the most comprehensive and robust response to COVID-19 yet. This will not be the last package Congress passes to address this crisis. Working together we will beat this virus and get Americans healthy and working, again.
I will continue to provide updates and resources. I am in constant contact with local and federal officials and will continue to provide updates on my COVID-19 resource page. Additionally, you can stay updated by following my Twitter @RepGregWalden or my Facebook page @RepGregWalden.
It is an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress.
Oregon’s Second District