Sarbanes Votes for Coronavirus Economic Relief Package

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today voted to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), an economic relief package that would provide American families with financial stability and security amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“As Maryland and other states across the country brace for the economic and social impacts of the ongoing spread of coronavirus, we must help families weather the storm by extending critical resources to our most vulnerable communities and ensuring that American workers have the financial support they need,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “In Congress, my colleagues and I will continue working to manage the outbreak, protect our communities and keep Americans safe.”

A key provision of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes a measure authored by Congressman Sarbanes to waive cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries who visit their health care providers and get tested for coronavirus.

Other provisions of the bill include:

  • Free Coronavirus Testing – Ensuring that all Americans, including those with private insurance, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, VA, FEHBP and TRICARE, as well as the uninsured, have access to free tests.
  • Paid Leave – Providing 14 days of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave.
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance – Extending unemployment benefits to laid off and furloughed workers, as well as to workers who exhaust their allotted paid leave.
  • Expanded Food Assistance Programs – Providing nutritious food to low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children, helping local food banks meet increased demand and offering home-delivered meals to low-income seniors. It also makes sure that children who depend on free and reduce-priced meals at school continue to have access to nutritious foods in the event of school closures.
  • Increased Medicaid Benefits – Boosting federal support for states to absorb new Medicaid enrollees if people lose their jobs. This is critical so that states will not be forced to cut benefits, reduce Medicaid rolls, raise premiums or impose higher cost-sharing. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act builds on the $8.3 billion in emergency funding passed by Congress and signed into law last week to help federal, state and local governments fight the virus and keep Americans safe.