The Senate has passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319), which implements many of President Biden’s COVID-19 relief proposals to help those most struggling from the health and economic impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The bill includes key provisions supported by ASHA, including expanding access to health care, enhancing Medicaid, supporting providers and their patients, and funding to help teachers, students, school personnel, individuals, and families. The House is expected to approve the Senate’s bill soon and send it to President Biden for his signature into law.
Below are some of the key highlights of the legislation.
Key Health Care Provisions
- $8.5 billion to help ensure access to health care in rural areas.
- Premium assistance to completely subsidize the continuation of employer-sponsored health coverage through COBRA until September 30, 2021.
- Reducing health care premiums for low-and middle-income families by increasing the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax credits for 2021 and 2022.
- Incentives for states to expand Medicaid by temporarily increasing the state’s base federal medical assistance percentage by 5% for 2 years for states that newly expand Medicaid.
- Coverage of COVID-19 under the Children’s Health Insurance Program for vaccines and treatment without cost sharing to the beneficiary, with vaccines matched at 100% of the federal medical assistance percentage until one year after the end of the public health emergency (PHE).
Key Schools Provisions
- $128.5 billion for grants to state and local educational agencies for ongoing instruction, reopening safely, and activities to address learning loss.
- $39.5 billion for grants to institutions of higher education for ongoing instruction and to reopen safely.
- $19.25 million for the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School, the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, and Gallaudet University.
Key Professional Practice/Workforce Provisions
- $7.6 billion for efforts related to establishing, expanding, and sustaining a public health workforce.
- $200 million for infection control support related to COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities through quality improvement organizations.
- $250 million to establish strike teams to prevent and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities.
Relief for Small Businesses, Independent Contractors, and Individuals
- Provides individuals and families within specified income limits additional direct assistance of $1,400.
- Extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides unemployment benefits to some self-employed and pandemic-affected individuals who do not qualify for regular state unemployment benefits, through September 6, 2021.
- Extends the federal supplemental unemployment benefit through September 6, 2021, and makes the first $10,200 in benefits non-taxable within specified income limits.
- $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to allow more nonprofit entities to apply for forgivable PPP loans.
- $1 billion Pandemic Emergency Fund to help states provide emergency assistance to children and families.
- $15 billion for the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance program to address any potential funding shortfalls and ensure that remaining eligible businesses can access previously approved grant funding.
Key Patient, Client, and Student Provisions
- $7.6 billion to help schools and libraries provide devices, internet service, and hotspots to students and teachers for internet use at home.
- Eliminates the tax burden of any forgiven student loan through the end of 2025.
- $91 million for the U.S. Department of Education to outreach to students and borrowers about financial aid, economic impact payments, means-tested benefits, and tax benefits for which they may be eligible.
Please contact Jeffrey P. Regan, ASHA’s director of government affairs and public policy, at email@example.com.
Visit ASHA’s website for the latest updates and resources for ASHA members related to COVID-19, including telepractice.