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Doctors Caucus Amendments to COVID Spending Bill Rejected by Democrats

Washington, February 26, 2021 Contact:

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, the GOP Doctors Caucus offered nine amendments in the House Rules Committee meeting on President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. House Democrats rejected the amendments. Co-Chairmen Dr. Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M., Dr. Andy Harris, M.D., and Dr. Michael Burgess, M.D., offered the following statement:

“The Doctors Caucus offered and supported measured policy proposals to the COVID-19 spending bill that would have helped patients access quality care, gotten students back to school, strengthened our emergency preparedness for future pandemics, and protected our health care heroes from frivolous lawsuits. Rather than including provisions from health care providers with critical experience and expertise, Democrats rejected our amendments outright and continued down the path of passing a completely partisan spending bill. Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle should listen to those who wear the white coats and treat patients, not just those who write the white papers,” the chairmen said.

The GOP Doctors Caucus offered the following amendments:

Rep. Michael Burgess Amendment #1
Summary
Requires the FDA to consider real-life data generated outside of clinical trials for products that have been granted an Emergency Use Authorization when the product is evaluated during the standard approval process.

Why it matters
The amendment ensures that we take into consideration the evidence outside of trials, so we have a full picture during the final FDA standard approval.

Rep. Michael Burgess Amendment #2
Summary
Provides $35 billion for the Provider Relief Fund.

Why it matters
Doctors, hospitals, health clinics, and many other care providers have been hit especially hard during the pandemic. Replenishing this fund will ensure health care providers can keep their doors open to continue providing quality treatments to patients.

Rep. Larry Bucshon Amendment
Summary
Good Samaritan liability protections for medical volunteers in all public health emergencies.

Why it matters
Throughout the pandemic, American volunteer medical providers were able to step up in big ways to help their fellow Americans in neighboring states thanks to liability protections afforded to them in the CARES Act. These protections will ensure that those individuals will not be held liable for offering a helping hand during all public health crises beyond COVID-19.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup Amendment
Summary
Would only allow states to use additional dollars for elder justice if they offer liability protections for COVID-19 medical liability action brought in a court for health care providers in long-term care facilities. Liability protections would not apply if the health care provider committed gross negligence or willful misconduct while providing COVID-19 care.

Why it matters
Congress enacted the Elder Justice Act to fund investigations into negligence and misconduct resulting in death or harm to our senior citizens. Health care heroes who did not engage in such conduct should be protected from frivolous lawsuits in court.

Rep. John Joyce Amendment
Summary
Ensures the bill does not go into effect until the Medicare trustee confirms it does not negatively impact the Medicare Trust Fund or reduce payments to health care providers and rural hospitals.

Why it matters
Senior citizens rely on Medicare to fund their health care. We must ensure that Congress does not jeopardize Medicare, or negatively impact rural hospitals or health care providers.

Rep. Neal Dunn Amendment
Summary
Of the $500,000,000 appropriated to FDA, the Secretary shall reserve at least $100,000,000 for the FDA to review additional applications for COVID-19 therapeutics.

Why it matters
Despite the fact that we’ve developed, manufactured, and are distributing COVID-19 vaccines, some Americans will continue to contract the virus. With the new strains emerging, we must ensure that America has treatments to help our citizens avoid deadly COVID-19 infections and avoid hospitalizations.

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks Amendment
Summary
Funding to carry out diagnostic standardized testing to evaluate where American children are scholastically after a year of COVID-19. At the same time, the amendment would ensure that school districts are not penalized for conducting this testing by federal accountability requirements.

Why it matters
Many students around the nation have received their education through virtual learning or not at all. Early reports suggest that children are not learning at the same rates as previously recorded. This amendment would ensure we have an accurate understanding of student’s current comprehension levels so that teachers can adjust lesson plans and standards accordingly.

Rep. Buddy Carter Amendment
Summary
H.R. 7574, Strengthening America’s Strategic National Stockpile Act (passed House under UC last fall).

Why it matters
One of the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic response was that we must bolster our national stockpile reserves. This amendment was passed in the House as a standalone bill last Congress by unanimous consent.

Rep. Drew Ferguson Amendment
Summary
Redirects obligated funds towards vaccines for rural and underserved seniors and corresponding mental health programs.

Why it matters
Rural communities have unique vaccine distribution challenges that require special attention as states roll out vaccine distribution plans. This amendment would ensure states are equipped to provide life-saving vaccines to rural America while addressing the tsunami of mental health issues caused by COVID-19 lockdowns.

Members of the GOP Doctors Caucus supported the following amendments:

Rep. Tom Reed Amendment
Summary
This amendment would make nursing home funds in the bill conditional on governors signing an attestation that nursing home data reporting has been accurate and will continue to be accurate. Requires that GAO investigate any significant past or future nursing home data reporting discrepancies.

Why it matters
Investigations into nursing home deaths have, reportedly, in some cases, been obstructed due to reporting or misreporting of information. This amendment ensures that governors will provide accurate information to help us complete such investigations.

Rep. Ashley Hinson Amendment
Summary
This amendment would require the $130 billion in funding for K-12 schools to be conditional on states producing a comprehensive plan to re-open schools.

Why it matters
The $54 billion provided in the December bipartisan COVID Relief bill and the $130 billion included in the present COVID spending bill are not conditioned upon schools reopening to in-person learning, which know is proven to be safe and better for most children. These funds are intended to be used for safe reopening, so spending the dollars should be tied to doing just that. This amendment would require governors to produce a showing how schools in their state that have not reopened can do so safely and quickly in order to unlock all of their funding.

Rep. Carol Miller Amendment
Summary
This amendment would allocate the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Funds in the underlying bill to states proportionately based on the number of children in poverty.

Why it matters
This amendment ensures funding is distributed as effectively as possible to ensure we meet the needs of America’s children living in poverty.

The GOP Doctors Caucus is comprised of Republican Members of Congress with medical and health care provider backgrounds and who utilize their medical expertise and backgrounds to develop patient-centered health care policy.