DNT DEBATE: U.S. Senator Tina Smith Successfully Secures Relief to Help Minnesotans Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

ST. PAUL [9/18/20] — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Tina Smith has fought on behalf of all Minnesotans to expand telehealth services, secure free diagnostic COVID-19 testing, and provide aid to farmers. She has helped secure billions to assist Minnesota in responding to the outbreak, and she also introduced legislation with Senator Elizabeth Warren to provide $50 billion in relief to rescue the childcare industry.

Sen. Smith has also traveled across the state to visit with business owners, community members and leaders, and local and state officials to hear about how Minnesotans are weathering the pandemic.


Smith’s Plan To Provide Free Diagnostic Testing For COVID-19 Regardless Of Insurance Coverage Or Lack Thereof Was Included In The Families First Coronavirus Response Act And Signed Into Law. On Mar. 18, 2020, Smith voted in favor of HR 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which included her Free COVID-19 Testing Act. From CQ: “Passage of the bill that would appropriate approximately $3.57 billion in supplemental funding and authorize additional funding to support the federal response to the spread and economic effects of COVID-19, including for paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, diagnostic testing, and nutritional assistance. Among other provisions, the bill would require health plans to cover diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and provide $1 billion for the Health and Human Services Department to reimburse laboratories for testing of uninsured individuals.” [CQ, 3/18/20; H.R. 6201, Roll Call 76, 3/18/20; S. 3499, 3/12/20]

The Bipartisan CARES Act Included: 

  • Smith And Collins’ Mitigating Emerging Drug Shortages Act, Which Would Help Prevent Drug Shortages. [H.R. 748, 3/27/20; S. 2723, 10/29/19]

  • The Commission On America’s Medical Security Act, A Bipartisan Bill That Smith Helped Introduce To Safeguard America’s Medical Supply Chain And Address Shortages Due To U.S. Dependence On Foreign-Made Medical Equipment. [H.R. 748, 3/27/20; S. 3478, 3/12/20]

  • Extended Funding That Smith Successfully Fought For For Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers, Six Of Which In Minnesota Receive Federal Funding. [H.R. 748, 3/27/20]

  • The Improving Care In Rural America (ICRA) Reauthorization Act, Which Loeffler Introduced With Smith To Renew $79.5 Million For Rural Healthcare Services Outreach Grants, Rural Health Network Development Grants And Small Healthcare Provider Quality Improvement Grants. [H.R. 748, 3/27/20; S. 3437, 3/11/20]

    • The Grants Were Distributed To Rural And Underserved Areas To Improve The Delivery Of Health Care Services In Rural Areas, Help Plan And Implement Integrated Health Care Networks And Support Small Healthcare Providers To Increase The Quality Of Care They Deliver. [H.R. 748, 3/27/20]
  • The Rural Delivery Of Online Care Services (R-DOCS) Reauthorization Act, Which Loeffler Introduced With Smith To Reauthorize $29 Million For Telehealth Grants. [H.R. 748, 3/27/20; S. 3438, 3/11/20]

  • $8 Billion Smith Fought To Secure To Help Tribes Cover The Costs Of Unexpected Expenses Due To Coronavirus, $100 Million For The Food Distribution Program On Indian Reservations, And $20 Million For Nutrition Programs For Native Elders. [H.R. 748, 3/27/20]

  • $1 Billion Smith Helped Secure For The Indian Health Service (IHS), Which Includes $125 Million For IHS Facilities To Improve Capacity Limitations At Clinics And Hospitals, Build Emergency Triage Units Or Medical Tents, And Increase ICU Capacity. [H.R. 748, 3/27/20]

  • $3.5 Billion In Additional Funding Smith Fought To Secure For The Child Care Development Block Grant To Provide Child Care Assistance To Health Care Sector Employees, Emergency Responders, Sanitation Workers, And Other Workers Deemed Essential During The Response To The Coronavirus. [H.R. 748, 3/27/20]

Smith And Warren Released A $50 Billion Plan To Shore Up The Nation’s Child Care System.“Child care workers in America are in an untenable position right now. Some are on the front lines of the coronavirus response, caring for children of essential workers while often lacking health insurance themselves. Others are unable to make ends meet as families keep their kids at home and day care centers shutter.  Meanwhile, parents are left wondering whether their children’s care providers will even be in business when the pandemic is over, making child care possibly harder to find and more expensive than before.  Now, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tina Smith (D-MN) are releasing a proposal to fix the problem. The plan, posted on Medium on Wednesday and provided to Vox exclusively ahead of publication, would set aside $50 billion for America’s child care system in the next coronavirus relief package. The money would be used in three main ways: to provide hazard pay and other support to those still caring for the children of essential workers, to help other providers keep paying their staff while they are closed, and to shore up the child care system (including boosting wages) for the future.” [Vox, 4/15/20]

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