Friday, Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, comprehensive legislation aimed at bolstering the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and addressing the severe impacts of the coronavirus on Americans’ personal safety and financial security.
In addition to including a bipartisan measure led by Rep. Kilmer to provide disaster unemployment assistance to people who are unable to work due to the current coronavirus outbreak, the legislation provides paid leave, establishes free coronavirus testing, expands food assistance for vulnerable children and families, protects frontline health workers, and provides additional funding to states for the ongoing economic consequences of the pandemic, among other provisions.
“The health and safety of folks in our region is my number one priority. In Washington and across the country, COVID-19 and efforts to contain it are causing serious disruptions in everyday life,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Today, Congress took action to ensure the federal government steps up to ensure folks across our region can pay their bills and feed their families. At a time like this, providing help to workers, families, and all those who need it most is vitally important.”
The legislation will:
- Ensure free testing for coronavirus: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act ensures that all individuals who need a test, including those with private insurance, Medicare Advantage or Original Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, VA, FEHBP, and TRICARE, as well as the uninsured, will have access at no cost.
- Provide economic security:
- Paid emergency leave: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave.
- Enhanced Unemployment Insurance: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives 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. This measure also provides additional funding to help the hardest-hit states immediately and in the future if conditions worsen.
- Provide food security: The Families First Coronavirus Response Actincludes more than $1 billion to provide food to low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children, help local food banks, and feed low-income seniors. It ensures that students who depend on schools and childcare for free and reduce-priced meals continue to have access to nutritious foods during closures. And it provides women, infants, and children with the flexibility to access food and infant formula without having to make unnecessary or unsafe visits to clinics.
- Increase health security: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act increases the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), which the federal government provides to state and territorial Medicaid programs. This will prevent states from cutting benefits, reducing their Medicaid rolls, or imposing greater costs on enrollees.