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Passage of “American Rescue Plan” Shows Commitment to Science and Public Health Infrastructure

March 10, 2021
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Today, Congress passed the “American Rescue Plan” – a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package aimed at alleviating some of the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon passage of the bill, Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), released the following statement:  

“The passage of this legislation is critical to getting much needed relief to those hardest hit by the pandemic, ensuring that more people in the U.S. and around the globe have access to vaccines, therapies and testing, and making sure we are better prepared for the next pandemic. 

“BIO is supportive of many provisions in this bill that will increase our members’ ability to respond – and bring an end to – the current COVID-19 crisis, better prepare us for future pandemics, and aid in our economic recovery from coronavirus-related closures.

“I thank lawmakers for seeing the value of investing in science and our nation’s public health infrastructure to keep Americans safe today and tomorrow. BIO looks forward to working alongside this Administration and Congress to end this pandemic and create policies that fuel future biomedical innovation.”

The bill includes several important provisions designed to strengthen our pandemic response and preparedness, including:

  • Providing coverage and no cost-sharing for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments for Medicaid beneficiaries
  • Covering vaccines and treatments at no cost to beneficiaries under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Encouraging states to cover vaccine and treatment costs for uninsured populations through their Medicaid programs
  • Increasing the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) to 100% for vaccine costs during that period

The package also includes additional funding for Health and Human Services Department’s (HHS) pandemic response, including:

  • $47.8 billion for testing and tracing activities
  • $7.5 billion for vaccine activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • $7.66 billion to expand the public health workforce, including grants to state, local, and territorial health departments
  • $7.6 billion for community health centers
  • $6.09 billion for tribal health programs
  • $6.05 billion to support R&D, manufacturing, and purchasing vaccines and therapeutics for COVID, its variants, and future pandemic threats
  • $1.75 billion for genomic sequencing and surveillance
  • $750 million for CDC global health activities
  • $500 million for the Food and Drug Administration to continue evaluating COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics
  • $500 million for CDC data modernization and forecasting
  • $1 billion for the CDC to strengthen vaccine confidence

Related to supporting the nation’s food system, the environment and equality, the bill:

  • Includes language to provide direct relief to America’s Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and farmers of color and additional funding for research, education, and extension at HBCUs and other institutions of higher education that historically serve communities of color
  • Allocates $100 million to address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Provides $3.6 billion for USDA to support food supply chains scrambled by the pandemic and $300 million to conduct surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in animals
  • Extends the 15 percent increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP) for the rest of the fiscal year
  • Puts $500 million towards funding rural hospitals and communities to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines
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