Trump Signs $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package

By Staff and Wire Reports | 03.27.20

Legislation requires the strategic national stockpile to include certain medical devices necessary for diagnosing and treating COVID-19.

President Donald Trump today signed a $2 trillion bipartisan stimulus package intended to save the U.S. economy from imploding under the strain of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

The legislation is the largest emergency aid package in American history, becoming law just 24 hours after the United States became the world leader in reported coronavirus cases (802,583 total; 44,575 deaths), according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.

Trump signed the stimulus bill in the Oval Office just hours after it was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives; the U.S. Senate approved the legislation on March 25. The fast-track approval process underscores the enormity of the COVID-19 crisis and the concerns Administration officials have about its potentially devastating impact on the U.S. economy. Economists have been warning of a deep recession in the past week or so as companies lay off workers and Americans sequester themselves in their homes to avoid spreading the highly contagious virus. 

"I want to thank Democrats and Republicans for coming together and putting America first," Trump said at the signing, USA Today reported.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) injects massive amounts of money into the economy in an effort to help U.S. workers, small businesses and industries affected by widespread shutdowns. Key elements of the package include $1,200 checks to qualifying individuals, $600 in weekly unemployment benefits, hundreds of billions of dollers in small business loans and grants, more than $130 billion for hospitals and community health centers, and direct financial help for airlines and other hard-hit industries. 

"This bill includes important provisions that will help us respond, including the creation of an emergency fund grant program, additional support for taking care of COVID-19 patients and relief from spending cuts, among other provisions. This support will help those hospitals from rural and urban communities that are in dire financial need due to this devastating pandemic," the American Hospital Association said in a statement. 

AdvaMed President and CEO Scott Whitaker quickly applauded congressional passage of the CARES Act. “These are extraordinary times, and we appreciate Congress for responding in an extraordinary way," he said in a statement released only hours after the House passage. “The latest relief package will help keep medical technology manufacturers afloat in the face of economic turmoil, and it will enable them to operate at the highest possible levels to combat COVID-19. Patients and the global health care system are counting on our industry to continue delivering the tools they need to prevent, diagnose, and treat this disease. Thanks to quick action by Congress and the administration, we feel even more confident in our ability to do just that. Still, many small medical technology companies may need additional help, and we look forward to working with Congress and the administration on that front as they consider future relief legislation.”

The CARES Act includes several key provisions to aid medical technology manufacturers.

  • In order to preempt supply chain and device shortages, CARES requires the strategic national stockpile to include certain medical devices necessary for diagnosing and treating COVID-19. It adds $16 billion in federal funding for the Strategic National Stockpile for medical supplies, personal protective equipment and medicine.   
  • CARES provides permanent liability protection for manufacturers of personal respiratory protective equipment, such as masks and respirators, in the event of a public health emergency. 
  • CARES extends the 50/50 transition payment amount for durable medical equipment (DME) provided in rural areas through the end of the public emergency period and creates 75/25 transition payment amount for DME items provided in non-CBA areas. 

Additionally, CARES includes several positive tax and payment relief provisions for medical technology manufacturers.
  • CARES delays private payer data reporting for laboratory payment purposes for one year (January – March 2022) and freezes payment rates for 2021 at the 2020 levels.
  • CARES offers net operating loss tax relief; NOLs from tax years 2018, 2019, or 2020 may be carried back five years. It also offers funding to reimburse providers for health care related expenses or lost revenues that are directly attributable to the coronavirus. 
  • CARES will expand an existing Medicare accelerated payment program for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency period.