WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03) delivered a speech in support of the Heroes Act, legislation that will provide $3 trillion in immediate relief to front line workers, additional financial assistance to working families, and enhance oversight of nursing home facilities that have become hotbeds for the spread of the coronavirus.
The full text of Trahan’s remarks as delivered is embedded below. A video of her statement can be viewed by clicking HERE or the image below. An electronic copy can also be furnished upon request. Specific proposals that Trahan advocated for on behalf of her constituents is also included below as well.
Congresswoman Lori Trahan
Remarks As Delivered
Passage of the Heroes Act
May 15, 2020
There are many reasons to support the bill before us today. Funding for state and local governments, front line workers, nutrition assistance, and so much more.
Top of my mind these past few weeks are the seniors living in fear of deadly coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes across my District.
I can’t stop thinking of the families who are hoping and praying that as COVID-19 spreads like wildfire through these facilities – that they haven’t already seen their mom or dad for the last time.
This legislation makes good on the promise we must keep to our seniors – to protect them from this virus.
The Heroes Act puts into place strong oversight requirements to ensure nursing homes are doing all they can to protect seniors.
It also establishes Nursing Strike Teams which will stand ready to deploy to senior living facilities in the event of an outbreak.
We owe it to our seniors – and their families – to do everything in our power to keep them safe.
I urge my colleagues to vote yes, because if nothing else, a nursing home resident in your district and their family are relying on you to.
Trahan fought for the inclusion of a number of provisions to provide Massachusetts’s Third District with critical support:
- State and Local Governments: $1 trillion in funding to support heroes, including first responders and essential personnel in state and local governments. Massachusetts is slated to receive $22.8 billion of this funding, including $12 billion for the state government and $10.7 billion for local governments. Municipalities in Massachusetts’ Third Congressional District would receive at least $678 million in assistance;
- Hazard Pay: Establishes a $200 billion “Hero's Fund” to ensure emergency workers who are risking their health to provide critical services receive the hazard pay they deserve;
- Expanded Coronavirus Testing: Provides an additional $75 billion to increase Americans’ access to coronavirus testing, tracing, and treatment, as well as more support for hospitals, community health centers, and other providers;
- Protects Health Coverage: The Heroes Act includes Trahan’s and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester’s (DE-AL) Coverage for COVID-19 Treatment Act, which requires private insurers to cover treatment for COVID-19 with no-cost sharing for patients. Another top priority of Trahan’s, the bill expands federal subsidies for COBRA premiums for workers laid off as a result of COVID-19, and it creates a special enrollment window for uninsured Americans looking to enroll through the ACA exchanges;
- Increased Oversight of Nursing Homes: Through CMS, states will get $150 MILLION to establish and implement Nursing Strike Teams that would deploy to senior living homes or skilled nursing facilities – like Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley – within 72 hours of 3 residents or employees being diagnosed with or even suspected of having COVID-19. The Heroes Act also builds in incentives for long term care facilities to create coronavirus-specific facilities and includes safety and quality protections for patients. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would be required to provide additional assistance to facilities struggling with infection control and collect data on COVID-19 in nursing homes, which would be publicly reported;
- Additional Direct Payments: Requires a second round of direct cash payments of up to $1,200 per person or $6,000 per family;
- Increased Access to Mental Health Services: Appropriates $3 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to expand access to mental health services and substance abuse treatment, including via telehealth services;
- Pandemic Production Act Provisions: The Heroes Act included provisions of Trahan’s Pandemic Production Act to increase the production and supply of critical medical supplies in part by mobilizing our domestic supply chain. It also requires the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand and enhance manufacturing capacity of vaccines and vaccine candidates to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Protects Worker Safety: Allocates $3.1 billion for the U.S. Department of Labor to support workforce training and worker protection activities related to coronavirus, including $100 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop and enforce requirements for workplaces to keep their employees safe from infectious outbreaks and protect whistleblowers who sound the alarm about dangerous work conditions;
- Continued Access to Education: Creates a $90 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to provide grants to states to support statewide and local funding for elementary, secondary, and public postsecondary schools, with $1.5 billion set aside to close the homework gap by providing funding for WiFi hotspots for families without access to broadband. Massachusetts is expected to receive $1.5 billion in additional funding for education through the Stabilization Fund;
- Housing Assistance: Sets aside $175 billion to assist families struggling to make their monthly rent, mortgage, and utility payments.
- Strengthened Food Security: Another top priority of Trahan’s, the Heroes Act provides $14 billion for food security programs, including a 15 percent increase to the maximum SNAP benefit, as well as increased funding for WIC, TEFAP, and child nutrition programs;
- Supporting Vulnerable Small Businesses: Improves the Paycheck Protection Program to ensure funds are getting to “true” small businesses and nonprofits and extends the repayment deadline, which was originally set to expire on June 30th, to the end of the year. It also provides an additional $10 billion for the EIDL’s grant program.;
- Safeguards Our Democracy: Provides $3.6 billion for grants to States for contingency planning, preparation, and resilience of elections for Federal office. The Heroes Act also requires no less than 15 days of consecutive early voting and guarantees every voter access to no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail. The bill also provides $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service to continue providing people with reliable and affordable access to their mail while protecting postal workers from COVID-19, and it sets aside another $400 million for the Census Bureau to ensure an accurate count.
A one-pager on the Heroes Act is here. A section-by-section summary is here.