Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


Thousands Apply at Launch of Paycheck Protection Program

Lenders began accepting applications last week for loans under the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created as a part of the CARES Act stimulus package. The PPP provides loan interest loans for certain businesses expenses. Under certain circumstances, all or part of the loans may be forgiven. As of 5:30 p.m. on Friday, 12,461 loans valued at more than $3.9 billion had been made. Small business advocates have expressed concerns that demand will exceed the total $349 billion in funding, and firms without an established relationship with a lender are worried that they will be beaten out for funding by lenders’ existing clients. One estimate projects that small businesses may need more than $1 trillion to replace revenue lost over the next three months. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been in talks with both Republican and Democratic members of Congress about the issue, and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has said that he will ask Congress for additional funding for the PPP if necessary.

Hart Health Strategies COVID-19 Resources

Hart Health Strategies Inc. continues to update the following resources related to the coronavirus pandemic:

What to Expect in Coronavirus Phase 4

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters last week that Democrats are already in the early stages of drafting phase four of the legislative response to the coronavirus pandemic. The measure is expected to include provisions to strengthen health systems and additional protections for health care workers. Other proposals under discussion include making treatment for COVID-19 free, the creation of a supply chain czar to oversee the purchase and distribution of medical supplies, another round of direct payments to middle income Americans, and a rollback of caps on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. Speaker Pelosi also believes that the next stimulus should include $10 billion for community health centers. Further investments in infrastructure, state and local governments, housing, education, unemployment insurance, small business loans, personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers, hospitals, and family medical leave have also been floated. Additionally, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has spoken in favor of the inclusion of hazard pay for workers involved in responding to the pandemic in the fourth legislative rescue package.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has also confirmed that there will be a fourth coronavirus bill. He has stated that health care should be a top priority as lawmakers draft the legislation, but that he is not in favor of “rushing” the next piece of legislation. Senate Republicans have expressed concerns that the House plan will be too progressive, though Speaker Pelosi has said that she hopes that the phase four bill will be bipartisan. Strengthening the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) enforcement of safety standards in hospitals and other health care settings is one such proposal supported by House Democrats that has already been met with Republican opposition.

Pelosi has said that a vote on the package could occur in late April. The House is scheduled to be in recess until April 20, though lawmakers could return earlier if necessary.

House Select Committee on Coronavirus Created

Speaker Pelosi announced the creation of a bipartisan House Select Committee on the Coronavirus to oversee the implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stimulus plan. The panel will also provide oversight to ensure that decisions made by the federal government in responding to COVID-19 are based on science. The committee will be chaired by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and will have subpoena power. Top GOP members of the House have argued that an additional layer of oversight is unnecessary.

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