(Washington, DC – March 5, 2020) – Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public health policy organization, applauds Congress’ fast action in approving the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R 6074). We now call on the tasked federal agencies to move quickly to send the appropriated monies to the agencies and localities working at the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.
Emergency funding is critical now for the following:
- Domestic public health. The supplemental provides essential support to states and local public health departments. This will provide support for their work which includes identifying and investigating cases, isolating and quarantining individuals, screening travelers at airports, ensuring the laboratory capacity to test patients for the virus, coordinating with the health sector to guarantee needed services are available, assessing the needs of those who are most vulnerable because of social, economic or environmental conditions and communicating with the public and healthcare facilities. The breadth of the response is quickly exhausting the funding provided in annual appropriations bills.
- Healthcare response. The supplemental provides support to hospitals, health centers and other clinical facilities across the nation have begun to identify, isolate and care for patients with COVID-19. Among the work of the health care system is training healthcare workers on the identification of COVID-19 cases and on appropriate infection control practices and treatment. The supplemental includes funding for training, provision of healthcare at community health centers, who serve the most vulnerable Americans, and ensuring the health care sector has appropriate personal protective equipment, necessary clinical supplies and equipment, and surge capacity.
- Medical countermeasures research and development. The supplemental ensures the U.S. prioritizes development and procurement of COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments. The federal government must be a reliable partner in development of products to combat the virus.
- Global health security. The supplemental supports global efforts through the World Health Organization, USAID and other agencies to boost the capacity of lower-income countries to detect and control infectious disease outbreaks. This will protect Americans as well as other countries by decreasing the likelihood of transmission as a result of travel and commerce.
- Investing in standing reserve funds. The supplemental fully replaces funds spent from the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund and adds money in this fund, so new funding can be immediately accessed if needed to fight COVID-19 and as an investment in protecting Americans from future outbreaks.
- Replacing funds lost due to transfers. The supplemental includes a requirement to pay back the $136 million transferred between HHS program for the initial COVID-19 response.
The full extent of the outbreak in terms of public health, healthcare and personal costs remains to be seen, but this investment is needed now. Taking immediate steps to mitigate the effects of the outbreak will save lives and prevent harm.
Trust for America’s Health is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public health policy, research and advocacy organization that promotes optimal health for every person and community and makes the prevention of illness and injury a national priority.