03/27/2020 - Congress passed the CARES Act today, a third $2 trillion emergency spending bill that includes provisions to help individuals and businesses, stimulate the economy, support the health care system and address food security during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill also provides additional telehealth flexibilities to increase access to care for individuals both directly and indirectly impacted, and in additional settings such as Rural Health and Federally Qualified Health Centers.
The Academy could not be prouder of the role our members are playing across multiple programs and settings to address the COVID-19 national emergency, including front-line services in our nation's hospitals, health care facilities, schools and senior centers. A full summary of the bill is available here.
Key highlights for Academy members in the bill include the following funding and programmatic provisions:
Nutrition Assistance and Feeding Programs
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program —$15.5 billion to support increased caseload and related costs due to the pandemic;
- Child Nutrition Programs — $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs to support increased caseload due and ensure access to meals while school is not in session;
- Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs — More than $480 million for senior nutrition programs. Allows funds to be shifted between congregate and home-delivered meal programs. Waives nutrition standards for meals, Administration for Community Living guidance is anticipated to clarify that calorie minimums are retained. Allows seniors to be classified as "homebound" if unable to obtain nutrition due to social distancing recommendations; and
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations — $450 million for TEFAP and $100 million for FDPIR.
Public Health Funding
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – $4.3 billion for domestic and international coronavirus response;
- Health Centers — $1.32 billion for health centers to combat COVID-19;
- Indian Health Service — $1.032 billion for combating coronavirus;
- Rural Development — $25 million to support the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program in rural areas of America; and
- Food and Drug Administration — $80 million for continued efforts related to shortages of critical medicines, medical countermeasures, therapies, vaccines and research.
Small Business Relief
- Loan Forgiveness — $350 billion in grants for small businesses and nonprofits to maintain their existing workforce and help pay for other expenses such as rent, mortgage and utilities.
Additional information on telehealth and MNT is available on the Academy's COVID-19 professional resources hub.
Members of Congress, their staff and advocates are already working on provisions to be included in future bills to address COVID-19 needs. The Academy continues to urge members of Congress to increase the SNAP maximum allotment, which was not included in the CARES Act, to support food security for low-income Americans during this unprecedented economic situation. The Academy is also committed to advocating for provisions that help our members safely do their jobs. To share how COVID-19 is impacting your community or workplace, please share your story.