Latest COVID Relief Package’s Implications for Primary Care

The latest COVID-relief bill passed by Congress, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, includes a range of economic and public health support measures, many of which have implications for patients and primary care practices. The package significantly expands access to health coverage through substantial subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans, as well as COBRA subsidies for the unemployed, and funding to incentivize Medicaid expansion in the 12 states that have not yet pursued it. The act also includes $7.6 billion to expand the public health workforce and $800 million for the National Health Service Corps, along with funding for teaching health centers. The relief package allocated $10 billion for rural health care providers to pay for unexpected expenses related to the pandemic. It also recognizes the toll of the pandemic on the mental health of Americans and included policies and funding to address their needs, including $40 million to HRSA to specifically address the mental health needs of healthcare professionals. No additional funds were allocated to the Provider Relief Fund, apart from targeted money for rural hospitals, and the loan terms of the Medicare Advanced Payment program were not relaxed.

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