Now is the Time for U.S. Senate Action on COVID-19 Relief
by Jill Zorn
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a second COVID-19 relief bill, the $3.5 trillion HEROES Act, almost two months ago AND the U.S. Senate has still not responded.
People need action now. Key provisions of previous federal Coronavirus packages are set to expire at the end of July.
The virus is spreading rapidly across the country, with hospitalizations and deaths on the rise in many states. Testing and PPE shortages are once again in the news.
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration continues to move in the wrong direction — filing briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court calling for the repeal of the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Universal Health Care wrote a letter to Senators Blumenthal and Murphy in late May. We highlighted the urgent need for the Senate to take up the next Coronavirus relief package as soon as possible AND that it should be on the scope and scale of the HEROES Act.
Even Connecticut, which has done a great job keeping infection rates low for many weeks, is in need of major funding from the federal government, to provide crucial help to people who have lost their jobs, and their health coverage. And we need to support testing and contact tracing to keep our infection rates low and send children back to school safely.
At long last, it seems that Mitch McConnell and the Trump Administration may finally be ready to move forward on legislation when the Senate returns on July 20. They are talking only in the range of $1 (not $3.5) trillion and many key provisions of the HEROES Act outlined in our letter don’t seem to be on the radar screen.
The Senate should step up and just pass the House bill!
Call Your Senators Today — Action is Needed Now!
Contact Senators Murphy and Blumenthal today. Let them know you support passing as big and bold a COVID-19 relief package as soon as possible. People need action now! Follow this link for their contact information.
More Action in the House of Representatives
While Mitch McConnell has been dragging his feet, the House has continued to develop and pass legislation. Here are three we wanted to bring to your attention:
— Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (HR 1425)
This bill would make ACA plans more affordable to middle-income families. It also addresses the high cost of prescription drugs by requiring that prices charged in the U.S. be no higher than those paid by European countries. It passed the House on a mainly party line vote, with all five members of the Connecticut delegation voting for it.
— Make Medications Affordable by Preventing Pandemic Price-Gouging Act (MMAPPP) Act of 2020 (HR 7296)
— Taxpayer Research and Coronavirus Knowledge (TRACK) Act
These two bills, still in the process of being written, are intended to ensure that everyone gets affordable access to COVID-19 medications and vaccines that are being developed with our tax dollars. Per a press release from advocacy group Public Citizen, they are designed to block Pharma profiteering and “prevent rationing and inadequate supplies of the medicines and vaccines desperately needed to treat and eliminate the virus” in the United States and around the world.