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COVID-19: Federal Update (7/29)

DACA Concerns Still Loom

Despite last month's Supreme Court ruling for DACA recipients, new concerns about the future of these important members of our community have arisen with the DHS memo delaying action on new applications since SCOTUS ruled in June to continue DACA. The government will be accepting DACA renewals, but instead of them lasting two years they will only last one year. You can read the memo here.


Additionally, a visa ban adds to the confusion to the process of foreign-born U.S. workers, as well as their employers here who rely heavily on H-1B visas for their workforce. You can read more about that here.


Quick Takes

— HOUSE TO TAKE UP CHILD CARE MEASURES. House lawmakers will convene for legislative business today to consider a pair of child care-related measures.

— WRDA BILL HEADLINES T&I LEGISLATION UP UNDER SUSPENSION OF THE RULES. The bipartisan measure would authorize 34 Army Corps of Engineers water resources projects.

— DEMOCRATS, GOP FAR APART ON VIRUS AID; TRUMP WANTS A DEAL. President Donald Trump said the Republican effort is “semi-irrelevant” as talks launch with Democrats.


— HHS ISSUES TRENDS REPORT ON TELEHEALTH UTILIZATION. The report details utilization trends of telehealth services for primary care delivery in Fee-for-Service (FFS) Medicare during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Capitol Hill Update

— HOUSE TO TAKE UP CHILD CARE MEASURES. House lawmakers will convene for legislative business today to consider a pair of child care-related measures. The first bill that will be taken up would establish a new Child Care Stabilization Fund within the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. The measure would provide the fund with $50 billion in supplemental appropriations to award grants to child care providers both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Members will also consider legislation that would provide additional federal investments and tax subsidies aimed at increasing access to affordable child care services. While addressing child care needs and gaps has emerged as an area of bipartisan agreement during the pandemic, it's unlikely that the Democratic bills will be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate.


— WRDA BILL HEADLINES T&I BILLS UP UNDER SUSPENSION OF THE RULES. Also on the House floor today, lawmakers will consider legislation out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee under suspension of the rules, starting with the Water Resources Development Act of 2020. The bipartisan measure would authorize 34 Army Corps of Engineers water resources projects, and includes language that would mandate feasibility studies for an additional 35 projects. Additionally, Members will take up a bill that would require illuminated signs and other measures on ride-hailing vehicles, as well as mandating ride-sharing companies to implement an electronic access system on their vehicles. 


Washington Insider: What We're Reading

Associated Press: Democrats, GOP Far Apart on Virus Aid; Trump Wants a Deal

A day of shuttle diplomacy on Capitol Hill over a coronavirus aid package produced few results Tuesday, with stark differences between the $3 trillion proposal from Democrats and $1 trillion counteroffer from Republicans as millions of Americans’ jobless benefits, school reopenings and eviction protections hang in the balance. As top White House negotiators returned for a second day of talks, the leverage is apparent. They are meeting again in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Republicans are so deeply divided over the prospect of big government spending that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is left with a severely weakened hand. President Donald Trump said the Republican effort is “semi-irrelevant” as talks launch with Democrats.

The Wall Street Journal: CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google Set for High-Stakes Antitrust Hearing ($)

The chief executives of U.S. technology giants are set to tell Congress they face stiff competition that motivates them to keep improving their widely used products, according to testimony prepared for a House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing Wednesday.Amazon. com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent Alphabet Inc., also emphasize their companies’ American roots in statements released ahead of the hearing, which aims to examine how the companies acquired their market dominance. The hearing is scheduled to start at noon Eastern time.


The Hill: Dozens of Facilities Skipping Out on EPA Pollution Monitoring Have Prior Offenses

More than 50 facilities across the country that have faced enforcement actions for alleged Clean Water Act violations are among those taking advantage of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policy that lets companies forgo pollution monitoring during the pandemic, an analysis by The Hill found. The temporary EPA policy, announced in March, says industrial, municipal and other facilities do not have to report pollution discharges if they can demonstrate their ability to do so has been limited by the coronavirus.

Associated Press: GOP’s Jobless Benefit Plan Could Mean Delays, States Warn

A Republican proposal to slash the $600 weekly benefit boost for those left jobless because of the coronavirus shutdown could result in weeks or even months of delayed payments in some states. Older computer systems that took weeks to set up for the initial federal unemployment enhancement would need to be reprogrammed again twice under the GOP plan. In Florida, state Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, said the state has not even gotten the original supplemental benefit to everyone entitled to it.

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers

NEW TODAY...

Senate Republicans officially introduced their opening offer proposal for the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation following days of intraparty negotiations between GOP Senators and White House officials. The legislative package was officially released as multiple pieces of legislation, with six total sections:

Click here to view TRP's side-by-side of the Senate GOP HEALS Act and the House Democratic HEROES Act.

NEW TODAY...

— HHS ISSUES TRENDS REPORT ON TELEHEALTH UTILIZATION. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published a report detailing utilization trends of telehealth services for primary care delivery in Fee-for-Service (FFS) Medicare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS UPDATES DATA ON COVID-19 IMPACTS ON MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its first monthly update of data that provides a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population, including data for American Indian/Alaskan Native Medicare beneficiaries. Information on the is here and an FAQ on the data release is here.  


RECENT DEVELOPMENTS...

— FED EXTENDS COVID-19 LENDING FACILITIES THROUGH END OF 2020. The Federal Reserve announced a three-month extension for pandemic-related lending facilities that were scheduled to expire on or around Sept. 30.

  • The extensions apply to the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility, and the Main Street Lending Program.

CDC ISSUES GUIDANCE ON REOPENING SCHOOLS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new resources and tools for school administrators, teachers, parents, guardians, and caregivers regarding school reopening efforts.

AZAR RENEWS COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY. HHS Secretary Alex Azar officially renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency last week. Click here to read TRP's analysis.

CMS ALLOCATES ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR NURSING HOMES. CMS announced the agency will allocate additional resources for nursing homes to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes $5 billion in funding from the Provider Relief Fund for Medicare-certified long term care facilities and state veterans’ homes, as well as a requirement that all nursing homes in states with a five percent positivity rate or greater test all nursing home staff each week.

HHS ISSUES REPORTING GUIDANCE FOR PROVIDER RELIEF FUND. HHS released initial information for the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting requirements, including the timing for submissions. HHS indicated that detailed guidance and materials will be released by August 17, 2020. 

— HHS ANNOUNCES NEW NATIONAL TESTING IMPLEMENTATION FORUM. HHS announced the rollout of a new National Testing Implementation Forum. The Forum will bring together representatives from key stakeholder groups to share information and provide input to federal leaders about the virus, testing and diagnostics.

— HHS, DOD TO PROCURE PFIZER COVID-19 VACCINE. HHS and the Department of Defense (DoD) announced an agreement with Pfizer Inc. for large-scale production and nationwide delivery of 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States following the vaccine’s successful manufacture and approval.

— WAYS AND MEANS REPUBLICANS CIRCULATE TELEHEALTH DISCUSSION DRAFT. The Republicans of the House Ways & Means Committee issued a discussion draft of a bill to make permanent several of the temporary telehealth flexibilities implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to read TRP's analysis of this legislation.


— HHS OCR ISSUES GUIDANCE ON CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS DURING COVID-19. HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance to ensure that recipients of federal financial assistance understand that they must comply with applicable federal civil rights laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in HHS-funded programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

— HHS ANNOUNCES DISTRIBUTION OF $10B FOR HIGHLY IMPACTED HOSPITALS. HHS announced that it would distribute $10B to hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots beginning this week. Click here to read TRP's updated provider relief fund memo.

  • This distribution, which was first announced June 8, is based on data that HHS collected from hospitals in June detailing COVID-19 admissions through June 10. In addition, the agency extended the deadline for Medicaid and CHIP providers to apply for relief funds from June 20 to August 3.

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