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Congress Set To Pass More Than $8 Billion In Emergency Coronavirus Funding, Including At Least $4.5 Million For Hawai‘i

Deal Includes At Least $1 Billion For State And Local Governments, $3 Billion To Develop Vaccine, Therapeutics, And Tests, $500 Million To Purchase Medical Supplies For States; Package Includes Schatz Legislation To Expand Telehealth Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

WASHINGTON – Today, congressional leaders reached an agreement to provide $8.3 billion in emergency funding to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, including at least $4.5 million for Hawai‘i. The bipartisan deal also includes telehealth legislation authored by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). Schatz’s legislation will expand the use of telehealth during the current outbreak, allowing more patients to receive care at home, while freeing up health care resources and helping limit the spread of infections in emergency rooms and hospitals. The package is expected to pass easily through both houses of Congress and be signed by the president this week.

“While there are still no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hawai‘i, this federal money will help fund our state’s response efforts and give us additional resources to keep people safe,” said Senator Schatz.

Highlights from the deal:

  • $2 billion to help federal, state, local, and tribal governments prevent, prepare, and respond to the crisis, including:
    • $1 billion directly to state and local governments to conduct public health preparedness and response activities;
    •  Reimbursement incurred by state and local governments for costs incurred responding to the outbreak.
  • $3 billion for the research and development of vaccines, other treatments, and tests;
  • $500 million to purchase pharmaceuticals, masks, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies, which can be distributed to state and local health agencies in areas with a shortage of medical supplies; and
  • $100 million to fund Community Health Centers, supporting smaller health clinics in under-served urban and rural areas.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged the use of telehealth during the coronavirus outbreak. The Schatz provision included in the deal, first introduced in the CONNECT for Health Act, will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to waive telehealth restrictions during the current public health emergency and allow patients to receive telehealth services in their homes.