Congressman Al Green Supports House and Senate Passage of $8.3B Emergency Coronavirus Spending Package

Mar 5, 2020 Issues: Health Care

(Washington, D.C.) – On Thursday, March 5, 2020, Congressman Al Green released the following statement regarding the House and Senate’s passage of emergency supplemental funding that will help protect Americans against the spread of coronavirus:

“After working closely with Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse  and local business owners to assess Houston’s needs in the wake of this public health emergency, I am pleased to announce that this bill significantly addresses funding for state and local agencies and possibly some small businesses as they prepare to handle a potential coronavirus outbreak. I look forward to this bill being signed into law by the President and will be urging Texas Governor Greg Abbott to include the Greater Houston area in the state’s disaster declaration,” Congressman Green said.

According to Congressman Green, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act “includes $2.2 billion in funding for programs vital to Dr. Persse and other local health authorities for preventing, preparing for, and responding to coronavirus. The bill also provides nearly $1 billion for necessary pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to help ensure preparedness and to improve medical surge capacity. Additionally, the bill includes an emergency telehealth waiver that allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive certain Medicare telehealth restrictions so Medicare providers can offer telehealth services related to coronavirus to beneficiaries regardless of where they reside.”

“Another provision of this bill that could be essential to my constituents is that it offers an estimated $7 billion in low-interest loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The small business provisions in this bill would offer certain businesses that have experienced financial losses due to coronavirus the opportunity to apply for SBA loans.”

“I must thank Rep. Nita M. Lowey, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Appropriations, for considering the needs of local agencies like the Houston Health Department in drafting H.R. 6074.” Congressman Green expressed confidence “that this funding would better prepare the Greater Houston area to not only treat patient(s) and help them recover while helping to ensure the virus does not spread to others, but also mitigate the effects of financial loss for eligible small businesses impacted by this global health crisis.”

Houston Health Authority Dr. David Persse added, “As Houston prepares its COVID-19 response plan, the emergency supplemental funding is vital to ensure we are adequately staffed with personnel, testing and surveillance resources, and infrastructure at the local level. I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the Congressman on this important issue and look forward to continuing to work with him.”

Local business owner in Houston’s International District Mr. Wea Lee stated, “There are many small businesses in Chinatown and the International District that have suffered a significant financial loss due to rumors of coronavirus. This legislation may provide us with some of the help we greatly need.”