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Pallone and Eshoo Highlight Key Health Care Provisions in End of Year Funding Agreement

Dec 21, 2020
Press Release
Omnibus Includes Historic Provisions to Protect Patients from Surprise Medical Bills, Critical Funding for COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Distribution, and Long-term Funding for Public Health Programs Including Community Health Centers

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) released the following joint statement today after the House of Representatives passed its end of year omnibus package, which included key health care legislation:

“The health care provisions in the omnibus provide the resources needed to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic, create new patient protections, and invest in our nation’s public health programs. The agreement includes vital funding to support the rapid and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as critically needed resources to support states with efforts to increase testing, contact tracing, surveillance, and mitigation activities to limit the spread of the virus.

“The package also includes historic bipartisan legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills, which represents the most significant expansion of patient protections since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The omnibus reinvests the federal government’s savings from cracking down on surprise billing into long-term funding for public health programs including Community Health Centers, Teaching Health Centers, and the National Health Service Corps.

“Finally, the end of year funding agreement rights a historic wrong by restoring health care coverage to Marshall Islanders and other citizens of the freely associated states. The people from these islands have endured repeated injustices that should have never been allowed to occur or to persist, but hopefully this restoration of Medicaid coverage will begin the long path toward justice and equity.

“Taken together, the health care provisions in the omnibus will help bring much needed relief during this unprecedented public health crisis and begin to lay the foundation as we build back toward a brighter and healthier future.”    

The omnibus includes several key health care priorities, including:

  • Holds patients harmless from surprise medical bills, including from air ambulance providers, by ensuring they are only responsible for their in-network cost-sharing amounts, including deductibles, in both emergency situations and certain non-emergency situations where patients do not have the ability to choose an in-network provider.
  • Delivers $69 billion in critically needed funding for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, vaccines, mental health, and support for health care providers. Included in this funding is $22 billion for testing, contact tracing, surveillance and mitigation, $19 billion for vaccines and therapeutics, including the manufacture, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics and ancillary supplies, and nearly $9 billion in additional funding to support distribution of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines that will help bring an end to the pandemic.
  • Authorizes a national campaign to increase awareness and knowledge of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, for the prevention and control of diseases and combat misinformation and offers support to expand, enhance, and improve public health data collection.
  • Provides long-term extensions of expiring public health programs, including: Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Centers, and Special Diabetes Programs.
  • Waives Medicare coinsurance for certain colorectal cancer screening tests. This provision gradually eliminates cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries with respect to colorectal cancer screening tests, even in cases where a polyp is detected and removed.
  • Restores Medicaid eligibility for citizens of the Freely Associated States (the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau) lawfully residing in the United States under the Compacts of Free Association.
  • Eliminates Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) cuts until fiscal year 2024.
  • Extends critical programs including the Medicaid demonstration to expand access to certified community behavioral health clinics, protections against spousal impoverishment for partners of Medicaid beneficiaries receiving home- and community-based services, and the Money Follows the Person rebalancing demonstration.