Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) voted to secure $7.8 billion in emergency funding for coronavirus (COVID-19) preparedness and response efforts, including support for state and local health agencies, vaccine and treatment development, and low-interest loans for small businesses affected by the outbreak, and an additional $500 million to expand telehealth services for seniors in small towns and rural areas who receive Medicare benefits. The emergency funding also includes at least $40 million for Tribal health entities to ensure Tribal communities have the resources needed to respond to the virus outbreak.
The state of Minnesota is expected to receive at least $10 million as part of this emergency funding.
“The outbreak of coronavirus requires a swift response from the United States so that we can limit its spread and care for those who have been infected or exposed,” Klobuchar said. “This is an important agreement for our country and the additional funding will help states, local governments, and tribes prepare to confront the virus and will aid in the rapid development of a vaccine.”
“We’re focused on doing everything we can do to help control the outbreak of the virus, protect the health and safety of Americans, and figure out how this outbreak is affecting the economy,” Smith said. “The federal government needs to have a coordinated effort in place, with the resources and support from both sides of the aisle that it deserves. I fought to make sure this funding goes directly to where it’s needed—to address coronavirus and infectious diseases—and I made sure we reimburse any funding previously taken away from critical programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps seniors and families heat their homes. Additionally, I’ve spoken with Governor Walz, the Minnesota Department of Health, local providers, and we are all committed to working closely together because Minnesotans’ safety and health are top of mind.”
Among its provisions, the emergency supplemental includes:
- More than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics;
- $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness, and response, $950 million of which is to support state & local health agencies;
- Nearly $1 billion for procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, to support healthcare preparedness and Community Health Centers, and to improve medical surge capacity;
- $435 million to support health systems overseas to prevent, prepare, and respond to the coronavirus;
- $300 million to respond to humanitarian needs;
- $61 million to facilitate the development and review of medical countermeasures, devices, therapies, and vaccines, and to help mitigate potential supply chain interruptions; and
- Allows for an estimated $7 billion in low-interest loans to affected small businesses.
The emergency supplemental also contains other strong provisions to ensure a full response and keep Americans safe. The bill:
- Requires that funds are only used to fight the coronavirus and other infectious diseases;
- Allows seniors to access telemedicine services for coronavirus treatment;
- Helps ensure that vaccines and treatments for coronavirus are affordable; and
- Ensures that state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response.
Additionally, the bill includes a requirement to reimburse $136 million to important health accounts, including mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention and heating and cooling assistance for low-income families which was transferred by the Trump administration to support its response.