On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion package to help address the COVID-19 crisis. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748) would provide significant assistance to individuals, families, health care providers, small businesses and key sectors of the economy. The House of Representatives is expected to pass the legislation on Friday and the president is expected to sign it into law. HRC supports many of the provisions in this bill, especially those that will help LGBTQ people, though we recognize the bill is not perfect. We will continue to work with Congress to ensure that further steps are taken to address our country’s needs in this difficult time.
The key features of the legislation are:
- Expanded unemployment insurance
- $600 per week increase
- Incentives for states to eliminate waiting periods
- Extended number of weeks of eligibility
- Direct payments to individuals and families
- Aid to hospitals and other health care providers
- Loans and grants to small business and non-profits
- Loans to larger companies to retain workers and maintain liquidity
- Aid to states
The bill also expands programs that disproportionately impact LGBTQ people, particularly around health care:
- Additional $90 million for the Ryan White Care Act for HIV/AIDS care and treatment.
- Additional $65 million for housing for people living with AIDS (HOPWA).
- Require that Medicare Part D plans provide up to a 90-day supply of a prescription medication if requested by a beneficiary during the COVID-19 emergency period.
- Includes language to ensure that states are able to receive the 6.2% FMAP increase, the funding formula used to apportion money under Medicaid.
- Additional $25 million for carrying out activities under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
- $4 billion for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Emergency Solution Grants to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19, address needs of individuals and families who are homeless or receiving homeless assistance. It also allocates funds to geographic areas with the greatest needs, and for the benefit of unsheltered and sheltered homeless and those at risk of homelessness.
- $5 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers and other workers deemed essential.
Since 2020 is a major election year and the COVID-19 outbreak is making it even harder for people to vote, the bill includes $400 million in election assistance for states to expand vote by mail, early voting and online registration.
This package is the third major bill that Congress has passed to address the crisis. Additional measures are expected as the full impact of the crisis becomes clearer.
To learn more about how LGBTQ people are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, be sure to check out HRC’s Foundation newest report, “The Lives and Livelihoods of Many in the LGBTQ Community are at Risk Amidst COVID-19 Crisis.”