Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Senate Passes "COVID 4" Legislation: $25 Billion for Testing

On April 21, 2020, the Senate passed "COVID 4," a $500B aid bill which goes to the House for a vote in the next two days ^ and was passed on Thursday, April 23 by 388 to 5.
  • The bill contains $25B for the lab industry.
  • An online-only copy of the 25 page bill is at CNN, here.
  • It's not pretty, but I've cut/pasted the raw text of the lab portions of the bill into an online HTML file here.
Roll Call has an analysis of the full bill, by Shutt and Krawzak, and contains several paragraphs specific to the $25B for testing.  Go here and scroll to the headline, "National testing strategy."

What's In the $25B?

The test money in part is allocated to states, but they must submit information to a national testing strategic entity as well.   Democrats, who control the House, wanted enough emphasis on a "national strategy" and did not want the money to just flow as block grants to states.

According to Roll Call:
  • $11B for states which may include employer testing.   $4B is distributed based on COVID case density.
  • $1B for CDC for "surveillance, lab capacity, and contract tracing."
  • $2B for NIH to "develop testing, research into rapid testing, partnerships."
  • $1B for BARDA for R&D and production of tests and supplies.
  • $1B for the uninsured.
They also mention $22M for FDA.  Roll Call writes, "The testing provisions require that states, local government and other recipients of the testing dollars file plans for how they will spend the money."


Trivia: It's called the "Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act," PPPHCEA.

For an April 6 (subscription) article in STAT Plus on BARDA's functioning so far under COVID, here.

The NYT writes,

At the insistence of Democrats, the measure would provide $25 billion for testing and a mandate that the Trump administration establish a national strategy to help states and localities, which are required to outline their own plans for testing. 

It is a step that public health experts and governors have said will be crucial to allowing states and sectors of the economy to safely reopen in the weeks and months to come, although economists and health researchers say the funding is a fraction of what will ultimately be necessary to deploy the kind of testing and tracing that will be needed to restart large amounts of activity by the summer.