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Latest Pandemic Relief Package Introduced to Senate

Late Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced a package of COVID-19 relief legislation known collectively as the HEALS Act. The release of the legislation has been delayed by several days as Senate leadership negotiated with the White House. It is likely that the final version of the legislation enacted will be altered considerably since it has already drawn opposition from fiscal hawks in the Senate for its approximately $1 trillion price tag; as well as from House Democrats who passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act in May and charge that McConnell’s proposal does not go far enough in providing needed relief.

Key provisions of the HEALS Act include:

  • Additional $25 billion for the Provider Relief Fund.
  • $16 billion for testing, contact tracing and surveillance in states and $20 billion for vaccine development.
  • Liability protection for physicians and healthcare providers related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including care that was delayed or not provided due to lack of adequate PPE or other supplies.
  • Liability protection for businesses and employers who provide reasonable accommodations to guard against transmission of the coronavirus.
  • Modifications to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) including adding the cost of PPE and facility retrofits to forgivable expenses, eligibility for certain businesses to apply for a second PPP loan, and streamlined application and forgiveness processes for small loans.

Released along with the HEALS Act were summaries of supplemental legislation for liability protections and modifications to the PPP.

 (Published 7.29.20)

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