On Wednesday, March 4, 2020, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) voted to pass bipartisan legislation to immediately address the coronavirus outbreak. This bill provides emergency funding for a robust response to the crisis, including support for state and local health agencies, vaccine and treatment development, and loans for affected small businesses.
Today’s vote follows Gottheimer and a bipartisan group of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which Gottheimer co-chairs, meeting with the Vice President on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, to discuss the global spread and potential impact of the novel coronavirus in the United States, as well as the need to pass an emergency funding bill to combat this threat to our country and families.
“Earlier this week, I met with health officials from across the Fifth District and heard about what our hospitals, health facilities, and communities need to treat patients afflicted with this virus. Today, the House passed bipartisan emergency legislation to immediately address the coronavirus outbreak and help keep North Jersey families safe from this growing public health emergency,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).
Today’s legislation provides new funding for a comprehensive response to this public health emergency. That includes resources for state and local health agencies to conduct vital public health activities, including surveillance, laboratory testing, infection control, contact tracing, and mitigation.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing NJDOH with 500 more coronavirus testing kits this week. Today’s bipartisan legislation will help ensure testing kits, supplies, and support get to communities expecting increases in demand.
Among its provisions, the legislation 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 for global health response — to prevent, prepare, and respond to the coronavirus;
- $500 million for critically needed items, including masks, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies;
- $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 legislation also contains other strong provisions to ensure a full response and keep the North Jersey community 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, that was transferred by the Trump administration to support its response.