Late on Thursday, May 28, lawmakers approved SB 1108, which appropriates a substantial portion of the $3.9 billion in federal CARES Act dollars appropriated to Pennsylvania, including $20 million to the Department of Health. Of the $20 million, $10 million is designated for community-based health care centers that receive HRSA grant funding and $10 million for vaccine research. PACHC does not have details yet on how and when the funds will be distributed. The language in the legislation clearly states that “a payment received under this section may only be used to cover necessary COVID-19 related costs, including, but not limited to, those not otherwise reimbursed by Federal, State or another source of funding incurred during the period between March 1, 2020, and November 30, 2020.”
The legislature also approved a five-month PA 2020-21 budget, HB 2387. The approved budget took the 2019-20 budget and cut each line item across the board by 60 percent to account for the five months, which will require lawmakers and the Governor during the next few months to figure out how to pay for the other seven months of 2020-21, along with any additional spending they might want or need to do in excess of the flat funding already approved. The 60 percent cut included the line item for the Primary Health Care Practitioner program. It is expected that both bills will be signed by the Governor.