WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Hayes and House Democrats introduced the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address the severe impacts of the coronavirus on Americans’ personal safety and financial security. This second relief package by Congress in just two weeks will ensure free Coronavirus testing for all Americans. It will strengthen food assistance for seniors, low-income women and mothers with young children. It will safeguard Medicaid benefits to prevent states from cutting critical programs and will give states the resources and flexibility to provide unemployment benefits to laid off and furloughed workers. Finally, this landmark bill would establish an Emergency Paid Leave Program so that those who take leave to avoid spreading the virus or due to illness or caregiving responsibilities can pay their bills.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 has revealed glaring cracks in many of our nation’s safety net systems – from worker protections and nutrition programs to childhood hunger and daycare,” said Congresswoman Hayes.
“While the aid package Congress passed last week will go a long way towards helping local health departments fight the spread of this virus, it is clear that more action is needed for those that will feel the impact of this health emergency the hardest: children, low-wage workers, and our most vulnerable neighbors. This global pandemic requires steadfast federal leadership and robust intervention to help workers and families during this time of crisis.”
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act will:
- Ensure that all individuals, including those with private insurance, Medicare Advantage or Original Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, VA, FEHBP, and TRICARE, as well as the uninsured have access to testing at no cost.
- Establish an Emergency Paid Leave Program so that those who take leave due to illness or caregiving responsibilities can pay their bills.
- Include more than $1 billion to provide nutritious foods to low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children, help local food banks, and provide home-delivered meals to seniors
- Give states the resources and flexibility to provide unemployment benefits to laid off and furloughed workers, as well as to those workers who exhaust their allotted paid leave.
- Direct OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard within one month that requires health care facilities to implement comprehensive plans to keep front-line health care workers safe.
- Increase the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) that the federal government provides to state and territorial Medicaid programs. This will prevent states from cutting Medicaid benefits.
Congresswoman Hayes helped introduced several of the bills that were included into the final package, including the Ensuring Emergency Food Security Act, Pandemic EBT Act, No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act, COVID-19 Worker Protection Act of 2020 and the Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal Family Care Act.
The Ensuring Emergency Food Security Act will temporarily increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and block any funding from being used to implement rules that would narrow eligibility for food assistance programs.
The Pandemic EBT Act would provide states the option to extend Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to households with children attending schools that are closed due to the coronavirus.
The No Cost for COVID-19 Testing Act codifies the promises made by insurers to cover COVID-19 at no cost to patients and fills potential gaps in coverage for people in self-insured plans.
The COVID-19 Worker Protection Act would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to ensure health care facilities implement comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plans to keep health care workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal Family Care Act would require all employers to provide an additional 14 days of paid sick leave, available immediately at the beginning of a public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by the House tonight builds on an $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus spending package enacted into law on March 6. That package – consisting entirely of new funds – included support for state and local health agencies, vaccine and treatment development and loans for affected small businesses to lessen the economic blow of this public health emergency.
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public-school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.
Currently serving her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.