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House poised to advance COVID-19 relief package

House and Senate Democrats are pressing forward with the budget reconciliation process — a legislative tool that will allow Democrats to advance their COVID-19 relief package with a simple majority. The package largely reflects the framework laid out in President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

In its current form, the bill includes $350 billion for state and local funding, a top HANYS priority. Of the $350 billion state stabilization pool, New York would receive $23.3 billion, with $12.6 billion flowing directly to the state and the remainder to localities, including $4 billion to New York City.

The bill also includes $46 billion for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, $14 billion for COVID-19 vaccines, premium assistance for COBRA and grants for rural health providers to help bolster their efforts to address COVID-19.

What’s next?

Lawmakers are eyeing the March 14 expiration of unemployment benefits as the deadline to ensure the emerging bill is signed into law.

While the reconciliation process will circumvent the threat of a Republican filibuster in the Senate, the slim Democratic majority will give key senators on the margins of their caucus significant influence over the final outcome of the package. Further, the parliamentary process in the Senate will require close scrutiny of all provisions to determine they are eligible for inclusion.

HANYS will continue to seek every opportunity to secure additional hospital and health system priorities as outlined in our recent letter to the New York congressional delegation. Our ongoing efforts are in close partnership with the American Hospital Association and our other advocacy partners in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D) and the entire New York delegation. Contact: Elyse Oveson

Published February 26, 2021