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Comparison With CARES Act and American Rescue Plan

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Emergency funds totaling $3.2 billion were appropriated to go to low-income families to provide access to broadband internet through an FCC fund. Those funds began being disbursed May 12, 2021, as Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) funds.

The CAA broadband appropriation also included a $1 billion tribal broadband fund, $250 million in telehealth funding, and $65 million to complete broadband maps to aid in government disbursement of broadband funds. An additional $300 million grant program was set to provide broadband in rural areas. The total set aside for broadband was almost $7 billion.2

No Surprises Act, The No Surprises Act, contained in Division BB of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), 2021, takes a federal approach to the problem of surprise medical billing. Most parts of the act go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. In the meantime, the Department of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Department of Labor were instructed to issue regulations and guidance.

The main provisions of the No Surprises Act:

Protect patients from surprise medical bills due to gaps in coverage for services provided for emergencies and by out-of-network providers at in-network facilities, including by air ambulances.
Hold patients liable only for their in-network cost-sharing amount but give providers and insurers the opportunity to negotiate reimbursement.
Allow providers and insurers to access an independent dispute resolution process in the event disputes arise around reimbursement.
Require providers and health plans to help patients access health care cost information.2
Additional Programs and Extensions
In addition to all funding above, the stimulus extended the Coronavirus Relief Fund created by the CARES Act and the Employee Retention Tax Credit. It also provided a special lookback for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit for low-income individuals and provided a Contractor Pay Extension, allowing federal agencies to reimburse contractors for the cost of paid leave during the COVID pandemic.2

The table below compares Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) funding in several key areas with both the CARES Act, which preceded the CAA and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which followed it.
The American Rescue Plan Act
Following the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden as president, the new Democratic majority began taking steps to pass a new $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to deliver further help, called the American Rescue Plan Act.

The plan, which was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021, calls for a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program, $1,400-per-person relief checks, financial support for small businesses, funding to helps schools reopen, expanded and extended unemployment insurance payments, rent subsidies, and more. The American Rescue Plan also includes a provision that student loan forgiveness issued between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2025, will not be taxable to the recipient.

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