HEROES Act: Another relief package on its way?

Earlier this week, the US House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) – phase 4 of the COVID-19 stimulus and relief package.  The bill that narrowly passed is set to provide a further $3 trillion relief in tax cuts and spending to address the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill is introduced to provide support to states, local governments, expand unemployment benefits, provide leeway in debt relief, and direct cash support to households.

The legislation will now be introduced in the Republican-dominated Senate.  The White House has already issued a statement opposing the presented legislation.  Considering the situation on ground, the HEROES Act is unlikely to become a law in its current form, if at all it becomes one. 

This is how the HEROES Act may affect healthcare providers, if accepted in its current form:

Provide Aid to Certain Healthcare Providers

The HEROES Act is set to provide appropriate funds to healthcare provider, to the underserved populations, fund mental health support, and expand access to telemedicine. 

  • $7.6 billion to the Health Resources and Services Administration
    • For underserved populations
    • HIV/AIDS clinics
    • Mobile clinics and testing of high-risk patients
  • $2.1 billion to the Indian Health Service to benefit Native Americans
  • $3 billion to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • $2.1 billion to the CDC
  • $150 million to the CMS to deploy ‘strike teams’ to counter the pandemic

Additional Funds for Healthcare Provider

The HEROES Act, if becomes a law, would provide a further $100 billion to healthcare providers for lost revenue, and additional expenses for prevention, preparation to respond to the COVID-19. 

The bill would also modify the previous relief packages, the CARES Act, the Enhancement Act, and the Provider Relief Fun.  This bill would also prohibit balance billing to patients.

Some other details of the funds are as follows:

  • Would be limited to the providers that provide diagnostic services, or treat individuals with confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19.
  • Providers should submit quarterly reports to HHS to receive relief fund payments
  • Use the HHS provided formula for calculating the amount
  • Providing methodology for lost revenue, which would be paid quarterly
  • Prohibiting the use of funds to compensate losses of high-income individuals

Waive Cost-Sharing for COVID-19 Treatment

All 3 previous relief packages included waivers for cost and cost-sharing obligations related to COVID-19 tests.  Having said that, none of the previous legislatures addressed preventing and treatment of COVID-19.  The HEROES Act would eliminate the out of pocket costs for treatment and vaccines. 

Increase Public and Non-profit Hospitals’ Access to High Speed Internet

Provide temporary Medicaid support to states

Revision of Medicare and Accelerated and Advanced Payment Programs

Expand eligible individuals to get COBRA – Health Insurance

Expansion of Federal, State, Local COVID-19 Testing and Tracing Efforts

Provide $500 Tax Deduction for First Responders, and Front Line Employees

Provide and Increase Workplace safety for Healthcare workers