(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced new funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to bolster Washington state’s health care response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding includes $12,756,443 to expand testing, surveillance and contact tracing in Washington state and $3,709,948 for rural hospitals and telehealth services.
“We need to be sure we have the testing capacity and health care resources in Washington state to ensure that all of our communities—urban, rural, and everywhere in between—can care for the sick and slow the spread of this virus,” Senator Murray said. “I’m glad we fought to include this critical funding in the CARES Act, and I’m going to continue pushing for more federal resources to make sure our state has everything we need to save lives and get this crisis under control.”
Specifically, the $12.75 million disbursement is distributed through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) existing Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC) cooperative agreement, which provides funding to all 50 states, several large local health departments, and U.S. territories. The funding will go towards state-wide and local efforts to improve COVID-19 testing capabilities, contact tracing, and case and mortality surveillance. The $3.7 million disbursement is directed to the Washington state Department of Public Health through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support rural hospitals that have struggled to maintain funding levels during this crisis, and to bolster telehealth services in rural communities.
Senator Murray successfully fought to include funding for testing and rural health care providers in the CARES Act, and has continued that fight since the passage of the law, releasing a roadmap to dramatically expand testing nationwide and securing an additional $25 billion for testing efforts and $75 billion for health care providers in the recently passed Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Senator Murray also spoke last week with the heads of rural hospitals in Eastern Washington to hear about the specific challenges that rural health care providers are working to overcome during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the federal government can best support them in providing care to their communities.