Our nation is facing the greatest public health and economic crisis we’ve seen in decades as a result of the COVID pandemic. Congress has already taken significant action to provide immediate relief to slow the spread of COVID, to protect workers from physical and economic harm and to shore up businesses that have been battered by the epidemic, but it’s clear more relief is needed to respond to the immediate crisis and to promote rapid recovery as the year continues.
What is the HEROES Act?
On Tuesday, May 12th, the United States House of Representatives introduced the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, a $3 trillion economic stimulus package in continued response to the COVID-19 crisis.
What Does the HEROES Act Do?
The HEROES Act includes many important provisions including hazard pay for essential workers, additional stimulus payments, an increase in funding for Medicaid and SNAP (also known as “Food Stramps”), infrastructure for a statewide contact tracing entity, and expanded access to no-cost testing and treatment for COVID-19.
The HEROES Act Would Increase Funding for Medicaid:
- This legislation increases the Medicaid funding that each state receives from the federal government by 14% beginning July 1. An increase in funding eases the burden on state budgets and incentivizes them not to cut Medicaid.
- The legislation also requires state Medicaid programs to provide non-emergency medical transportation, making it safer and easier for Medicaid recipients to attend doctors’ appointments.
The HEROES Act Would Expand Healthcare Coverage:
- The HEROES Act eliminates out of pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment for individuals with Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance.
- The bill would also create a special enrollment period for Marketplace insurance to allow individuals to enroll in different health plans.
What Does it Not Cover?
While this legislation addresses important areas of COVID-19 relief, we still have more work to do. Future legislative packages need to include protection for undocumented individuals, a larger increase in Medicaid funding to support states during and after the crisis and increase subsidies to increase participation in the Marketplace.