Rep. Courtney Bill to Cover Full Cost of COVID-19 Vaccine Included in Senate’s Bipartisan Coronavirus Agreement
NORWICH, CT – Last night, the United States Senate voted 96-0 to pass a third economic stabilization package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in the Senate’s bipartisan agreement is a provision first introduced by Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) that will ensure a future vaccine for COVID-19 is quickly accessible for all Americans covered by private health insurance plans. Last week, after voting to pass the first two bipartisan economic stabilization packages in response to the Coronavirus, Courtney introduced the Rapid Coverage of COVID-19 Vaccine Act of 2020 (H.R. 6299), a bold proposal to ensure a future vaccine for COVID-19 is quickly accessible for all Americans covered by private health insurance plans. The Senate announced yesterday that it had struck a bipartisan agreement on a third economic stabilization package, which includes Rep. Courtney’s H.R. 6299, and voted last night to pass the legislation. The House is expected to vote on an identical measure later this week.
“We’ve got to be prepared to deploy a COVID-19 vaccine as widely as possible once it’s developed,” said Rep. Courtney, “it's the only way we can ensure a clear victory for Americans in this fight. The Senate’s renegotiated emergency Coronavirus package that was passed last night is a much-improved plan from the original version. It directs critical resources to America’s health care workers and hospitals, puts more resources in the toolbox for unemployed workers and small employers, and it includes my bill, the Rapid Coverage of COVID-19 Vaccine Act, which will help our communities get protected, and our families’ lives to return to normal. The House has already come together to pass two bipartisan economic stabilization bills, and we need to keep working across the aisle to pass the Senate’s aid package without delay.”
The Senate’s agreement also includes billions of dollars in research and development funds for a COVID-19 vaccine, including $3.5 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) within the Department of Health and Human Services, $415 million in Department of Defense Health Program research funding, $945.5 million in NIH funds for vaccine and diagnostic research development, and $80 million in funding to the Food and Drug Administration to respond to COVID-19, including vaccine approval. This is in addition to billions already appropriated for vaccine development in the first emergency supplemental appropriations bill passed by Congress on March 4th.
Rep. Courtney’s legislation would ensure that once a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed and proven to be safe and effective, it is covered by private insurance plans without cost-sharing within 15 days. Without this legislation, Americans would have to wait an additional year to get access to the vaccine without copayment or coinsurance costs.