Public health regulation has been made over a long time through legislative fiat. It has been a prerogative of governing bodies to examines the authority of different jurisdictions as a way of improving the health of the entire population within societal limits and norms. For that reason, the government is primarily organized for the purpose of protecting, preserving as well as promoting the general welfare of the people. Such cognizant purpose is an excellent tool in the discourse of public health legislation. The aim of this paper is to elucidate on Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which is legislation in the U.S. addressing the current pandemic.
Background of the Legislation
By January 2020, the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) was already affecting many countries (GovTrack, 2020). It was a viral respiratory ailment triggered by a novel coronavirus, and was within a new phase with community spread and already in a number of U.S. states. There were growing concerns about the possible widespread of the disease, which augmented hospitalizations and deaths. Initially, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was responsible for supporting domestic health and preparedness as well as the response activities regarding the pandemic (GovTrack, 2020). HHS was using the existing funding sources together with the transfer authorities to address the challenges brought by the disease. An example was on 25th January 2020 when HHS decided that the response activities in relation to the pandemic were to be allotted 105 million dollars from Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund (IDRRRF) (GovTrack, 2020).
With the growing challenge of the pandemic, the Trump administration requested Congress for 1.25 billion dollars as an emergency funding in February 2020 (GovTrack, 2020). Although the administration had a plan of combating the disease more effectively, the lawmakers referred it as a paltry request in fighting the bug and that the administration had already bungled its response. However, with the growing severity of the pandemic, the administration included some funding proposals, which consequently led to the supplemental appropriations bill. There were slow negotiations some days before the legislation was passed in the House and the Senate. This was due to the partisan disagreements on the provision of affordable access to treatment where the major matters that lead to disagreement as well as slowing-down the bill were on the affordability of vaccine. However, the legislation got broader bipartisan support later.
Summary of the Legislation
The introduction and passing of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act in the House was done on 4th March 2020 (GovTrack, 2020). The Senate passed it on 5th March 2020, after which was signed as law (P.L. 116-123) by the president on 6th March 2020 (GovTrack, 2020). The legislation offers a total of 8.3 billion dollars as emergency funding to all federal agencies in responding to coronavirus pandemic (Oum et al., 2020). The 8.3 billion dollars is divided into 7.8 billion dollars as discretionary appropriations, as well as 500 million for mandatory spending (Oum et al., 2020).
The legislation covers both domestic and international efforts. The domestic response allocation is 6.7 billion dollars, which is 81% of the total amount (Oum et al., 2020). Much of the domestic allotment goes to the HHS department. 3.4 billion dollars is provided for Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF), which is meant to cater to Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) (Oum et al., 2020). This amount is used to research and develop vaccines, therapeutics, as well as diagnostics. Additionally, 100 million dollars out of the same funds are meant for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) (Oum et al., 2020). It will cater for grants within the Health Center Program, which focuses on improving health care to individuals within the areas that are geographically isolated and also those who are deemed to be economically and medically vulnerable.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also given 1.9 billion dollars, which is used to cater for state and local response efforts (Oum et al., 2020). The amount is also used in the replenishment of the Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund, assisting the United States of America in its efforts to address the emergency due to infectious bug. Also, the legislation allocated 836 million to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in aid of research on therapies and technologies at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (Oum et al., 2020).
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also benefit from the legislation allotment of 61 million in development and review of vaccines and for countermeasures. The legislation also advocates granting Small Business Administration (SBA) with 20 million for loan subsidies to entities impacted financially by the pandemic (Oum et al., 2020). With the mandatory 500 million dollars, the legislation offers a waiver removing restrictions on Medicare providers. The fund would assist Medicare providers in offering telehealth services to all (Oum et al., 2020). In the international response, the legislation provides 1.6 billion dollars, which is about 19% of the total amount (Oum et al., 2020). The amount is given to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in support of support global health systems in response to the pandemic overseas (Congressional Research Service, 2020).
Industry Leader’s Perspectives About the Legislation
After the passing of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, various leaders in the public health sector showed their reactions, some challenging, supporting and also calling for caution. American Hospital Association (AHA), American Medical Association (AMA) as well as American Nurses Association (ANA)were the first to support the legislation as they urged the Congress to speedily fund health care in readiness to curb the Coronavirus (AHA, 2020). Additionally, the United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) also supported the legislation since it included Economic Injury Disaster Loans as a result of the pandemic. On their part, Illinois Republicans demanded transparency on the disbursement of the fund, citing that there are states that were still struggling because of the disease (Bost, 2020).
Enacting the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations legislation is much recommendable in a time when the whole world is in a great need. With the bipartisan 8 billion dollars as a supplemental emergency fund, the country is in a perfect position to address the critical effects of the disease from all perspectives. I think it is a virtuous thing seeing leaders from both political divides coming together to ensure that the job is done in the interests of the people’s health. Additionally, since this legislation provides funds to support all aspects of the public health sector, I believe it will assist in containing the pandemic in an exceptional way. I appreciate the way the legislation distributes the funding and particularly assigning over 4 billion, which is over half of the funds, in supporting treatments, diagnostic testing, developing vaccines and the future procurement, together with exertions of safeguarding medical products and thwart scarcity.
As a call of action, Congressional leadership needs to fortify the rural hospitals by slightly amending the legislation to add more funds to the communities. It is now clear that with the current public health crisis, rural communities are facing inimitable challenges in accessing health care services due to the massive and unprecedented closure of health facilities. Given the augmenting severity of the public health crisis, there is the ardent need of prompt attention in terms of funds to our rural communities as well as rural providers to ensure proper protection of the vulnerable population.
Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act was specifically required in the U.S. to curb the unprecedented growth of the pandemic. The legislation advocated for greater funding for the domestic response to the pandemic as well as substantial funding in the global response. With the legislation, various aspects of the public health sector would be funded massively to address the challenges brought by the pandemic. The bipartisan would assist in a possible containment of the pandemic both in the U.S. and globally. However, the legislation should be amended in a way that rural communities are strengthened more.
AHA. (2020). AHA, ANA, urge Congress to quickly fund health care readiness for Coronavirus. American Health Association. https://www.aha.org/press-releases/2020-02-27-aha-ana-urge-congress-quickly-fund-health-care-readiness-coronavirus
Bost, M. (2020). Illinois demands transparency from Pritzker regarding federal Covid-19 relief funding. Bost House. https://bost.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/illinois-gop-demands-transparency-pritzker-regarding-federal-covid-19
Congressional Research Service. (2020). Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-123): First Coronavirus Supplemental. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R46285.pdf
GovTrack. (2020). H.R. 6074 — 116th Congress: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr6074
Oum, S., Wexler, A., & Kates, J. (2020, 11th March). The U.S. response to Coronavirus: summary of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-u-s-response-to-coronavirus-summary-of-the-coronavirus-preparedness-and-response-supplemental-appropriations-act-2020/
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Essay on Addressing the Pandemic: Overview of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Legislation in the U.S.. (2023, Nov 16). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/essay-on-addressing-the-pandemic-overview-of-the-coronavirus-preparedness-and-response-legislation-in-the-us
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