AACN's Washington Weekly

Published July 29, 2020

COVID-19 Legislative and Policy Update

On July 27, Senate Republicans unveiled a package of legislative proposals known collectively as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. This COVID-19 relief package is comprised of multiple bills aimed at addressing the social, economic, and healthcare needs of our nation. Combined, these bills create an approximately $1 trillion proposal and contain provisions related to academic nursing, including: 

  • $29 billion for colleges and universities;
  • $16 billion to help with COVID-19 testing and contact tracing;
  • Temporary and targeted liability protections, including for schools, to provide reasonable protections with no incidents of gross negligence during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Provisions to allow student loan borrowers to streamline their repayment plans potentially allowing unemployed borrowers to defer payments, and upon returning to work, would cap payments at 10% of income after housing and food expenses.

The Senate GOP proposal is considered a starting point for negotiations as Congress nears the August District Work Period and deadlines for when many of the economic relief measures expire. AACN will continue to monitor the federal response and work with Congress and the Administration as they address this public health challenge. 

In addition, this legislative push comes as the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar renewed the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration. Originally set to expire on July 25, the renewal extends the PHE by 90 days or until October 23 and ensures that federal agencies continue to have the flexibility to respond to COVID-19. For additional updates and information, please visit AACN’s Advocacy and Policy COVID-19 Efforts webpage and follow us on Twitter at @AACNPolicy.

Stakeholder Engagement Opportunity: CDC Forums on the Management of Acute and Chronic Pain

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that it will hold approximately 100 phone calls or virtual platform events throughout the next year in order to engage stakeholders on the benefits and harms of opioid use in relation to pain and pain management. Healthcare providers dealing with complications of pain management such as opioid use disorder or overdose, and patients with acute or chronic pain, are invited to join. The insights gained from these forums will inform the ongoing updating process of the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. Those interested in participating should contact the CDC at InjuryCenterEngage@cdc.gov by 5:00pm ET on August 21. For more information on this opportunity, click here.

Continue Your Advocacy During the August Recess 

Explore AACN’s August Toolkit, AACN’s Guide to Virtual Advocacy, to learn more about amplifying your voice and connecting with your federal legislators during the August Recess. This year, August recess is expected to commence in the House of Representatives on August 3, and the Senate will follow soon thereafter on August 10. AACN’s August Toolkit showcases ways to virtually connect with your Members of Congress, provides key resources, and allows you to continue your engagement and advocacy efforts. 

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