Breakdown of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

March 26, 2020

On March 25, Congress reached an agreement on a massive emergency legislative package to address the ongoing pandemic. While the $2.2 trillion measure is far too expansive and comprehensive to summarize in full detail, we have summarized the major provisions and funding levels below that align with ASM's priorities and affect the microbial and public health programs.
  The CARES Act includes policy provisions of importance to ASM that do the following
  • Provide direct aid to health care institutions on the front line of the crisis;
  • Require coverage of COVID-19 diagnostic tests, vaccines and treatment;
  • Require inclusion of diagnostics, swabs and test kits in the Strategic National Stockpile;
  • Delay scheduled cuts in Medicare payments for clinical laboratory diagnostic tests; and,
  • Call for a National Academies study on the security of the U.S. medical supply chain.

The CARES Act included the following supplemental funding provisions:
  • $4.3 billion total for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which will remain available until Sept. 20, 2024 to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 internationally or domestically. This includes:
    • $1.5 billion for states, localities, territories, tribes and tribal organizations to carry out surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications and other preparedness and response activities.
      • We were informed by House and Senate appropriations staff that the intent is for programs like AMD to be supported through this line item because it covers CDC efforts related to laboratory testing, workforce training programs, and combating antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic resistant bacteria. It will be up to CDC to develop a spending plan.
    • $500 million for global disease detection and emergency response.
    • $500 million for public health data surveillance and analytics infrastructure modernization.
    • $300 million for the Infectious Disease Rapid Reserve Fund.
  • $27 billion to the HHS Office of the Secretary until 2024 to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including the development of necessary countermeasures and vaccines, prioritizing platform-based technologies with U.S.-based manufacturing capabilities, the purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, necessary medical supplies, as well as medical surge capacity, addressing blood supply chain, workforce modernization, telehealth access and infrastructure, initial advanced manufacturing, novel dispensing.
    • $16 billion of this is for the Strategic National Stockpile, which we were pleased to see will be required to include diagnostic testing kits and supplies;
    • $3.5 billion goes to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
  • $940 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This includes:
    • An additional $706 million to NIAID to prevent, prepare and respond to COVID-19. $156 million of this is for vaccine and infectious disease research facilities.
    • Other NIH funds are allocated to NHLBI, NCATS, NIBIB, the National Library of Medicine and the Common Fund.
  • $80 million to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including funds for the development of necessary medical countermeasures and vaccines, advanced manufacturing for medical products, the monitoring of medical product supply chains.
  • Funding to other science and research agencies is provided, including $75 million to the National Science Foundation (NSF), and $99.5 million to the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, including to national labs.

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) applauds Congress for negotiating the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. ASM and its members have been actively advocating with Congress, federal agencies and the White House Coronavirus Task Force for increased funding for research and public health agencies, for laboratory diagnostic flexibility and for provisions that ensure that laboratory and health care professionals have the tools and materials required on the front lines of this pandemic.

The American Society for Microbiology is one of the largest professional societies dedicated to the life sciences and is composed of 30,000 scientists and health practitioners. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.

ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.

Author: ASM Advocacy

ASM Advocacy
ASM Advocacy is making it easy and providing opportunities for members to advocate for evidence-based scientific policy.