National Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak

National Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak

Federal Laws Passed:

Phase 1 - Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act

(Signed by President Trump March 6, 2020)
$8.3 Billion in Total Funding
$4 Billion for Agency Funding
$2 Billion for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
$20 Million for Disaster Loans
Waived Medicare Telemedicine Restrictions

Kaiser Family Foundation Summary

Phase 2 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act

(Signed by President Trump March 18, 2020)
Expanded the Family Medical Leave Act*
Requirement for Emergency Paid Sick Leave*
Required Government and Private Payers to Cover COVID-19 Testing Costs
$3.471 Billion Initial Cost  - $100 Billion Total
$192 Billion Cost in Deficit Spending

*Detailed Explanation of Employer Requirements

Phase 3 - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

(Signed by President Trump March 27, 2020)
$2.2 Trillion in Total Funding
$349 Billion Paycheck Protection Program
Extended and Expanded Unemployment Benefits
$1,200 Tax Rebate per Adult / $500 per child
$500 Million Public Health Surveillance and Analytics Infrastructure
Loosened Consent Requirements for Substance Abuse Disorder Patients
Deferred Student Loan Payments During Emergency
Expanded Telehealth Services
$500 Billion for Economic Stability Business Loans
$150 Billion Relief Funds to States, Territories, Tribal Governments
$340 Billion in Emergency Appropriations
(and more)

Congress.Gov Summary

Executive Orders and Agency Action:

Federal, state and local governments/agencies have provided additional flexibility by waiving or suspending various rules. The following are a few noteworthy examples: (see an extensive list below)


  • Expansion of Telehealth with 1135 Waiver
  • Medicare Telehealth Visits
  • Virtual Check-Ins
  • E-Visits
  • Relaxing HIPAA / OCR Enforcement for Telehealth Technology

Catastrophic Coverage:

"To facilitate the nation’s response to COVID-19, until further notice, HHS will not take enforcement action against any health insurance issuer that amends its catastrophic plans to provide pre-deductible coverage for services associated with the diagnosis and/or treatment of COVID-19."


BlanketWaivers for Health Care Providers: 

"The Trump Administration is taking aggressive actions and exercising regulatory flexibilities to help healthcare providers contain the spread of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)." (26 pages of waivers)


FDA Emergency Use Authorization (examples)


Sharing of Patient Data:

The federal HIPAA rule regulates the use of protected health information (PHI), which is identifiable patient data. Although Americans believe HIPAA protects their privacy, HIPAA permits sharing and use of PHI—without consent.  HIPAA is considered a permissive data-sharing rule. 

As Health IT Security notes, HIPAA already permits covered entities (e.g. doctors, hospitals, health plans) to share PHI with government agencies. However, HIPAA business associates (BAs) are only allowed to use and disclose PHI with the government for public health and health oversight purposes if the business associate data-sharing agreement says they can. 

The new announcement by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) allows BAs to share data with the government without HIPAA penalties during the pandemic.


List of Federal and State Regulations that have been waived.

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