O’Halleran Votes for Aggressive Measures to Address Coronavirus Impact

March 15, 2020
Contributed Columns

WASHINGTON—Tonight, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) voted to pass H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a supplemental appropriation to allocate billions in federal funding to continue to address the spread of the Coronavirus and the effects on American families. 

“Arizonans are concerned for the health of their loved ones, especially their parents and grandparents, and those with underlying health conditions in their lives,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “The legislation passed tonight in the House ensures free testing for COVID-19, extended paid sick leave for families affected, expanded nutrition assistance, and additional protections for first responders and public health workers on the front lines of this crisis.”  

Specifically, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

·      establishes universal free testing for the Coronavirus 

o  all individuals, including those with private insurance, original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, VA health benefits, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, TRICARE, those covered under the Indian Health Service (IHS) and at tribal health facilities, as well as the uninsured, will have access to tests at no cost.

·      establishes a new federal emergency paid leave program 

o  the program guarantees paid leave to those out sick, under a quarantine for, or caring for a dependent with COVID-19.

·      expands nutrition assistance

o  the bill provides school meal waivers to ensure students who rely on school meals are still fed if schools are closed, provides home-delivered meals for home-bound seniors and their caregivers, and includes $10 million for nutrition services for tribal communities;

·      increases federal funding available for states’ Medicaid programs 

o  the legislation also ensures that IHS facilities and tribal health clinics will have no cost share for any COVID-19 related treatments disbursed. 

·      allocates $64 million to the Indian Health Service to address COVID-19 in tribal communities;

·      protects public health workers by implementing an Emergency Temporary Standard that mandates health care facilities strengthen measures to keep workers healthy and safe;

·     and enables the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to increase Medicare telehealth services during this emergency. 

“This bipartisan bill is true to its name: putting families first,” said O’Halleran following the House vote to pass H.R 6201. “I implore Leader McConnell and the Senate to immediately take up and pass this critical legislation and send it to the president’s desk for a signature.”

On Wednesday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency in the state of Arizona, and the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Today, President Trump declared a National Emergency in the United States. 

“In addition to this important package that will provide relief to American families, we must ensure that we have as many COVID-19 tests available as possible and are able to rapidly read and analyze the results these tests provide,” continued O’Halleran. “Without these metrics, we will not be able to get an accurate representation of the depth and scope of the virus in our country—especially in rural and tribal communities—preventing us from adequately protecting all of our citizens and adjusting to the ever-changing environment this disease has created.” 

The administration has indicated it will support H.R. 6201.

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