House Passes Ruiz’s Public Health Priorities in American Rescue Plan

March 10, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed a number of Rep. Raul Ruiz’s public health priorities as part of H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Rep. Ruiz (CA-36) fought to include language to provide major funding for environmental justice grants, physician teaching health centers, and Tribal health programs.

“I am proud to secure these major victories for my constituents as my priorities passed the House today,” said Dr. Ruiz. “These outcomes will help promote public health during a pandemic by creating a healthier environment, strengthening the physician workforce, and expanding Tribal health programs around the country.”

The American Rescue Plan also includes urgently needed resources to defeat the virus, recover economically, and put children back in classrooms.

“Today, I enthusiastically voted for the American Rescue Plan with my constituents on my mind and in my heart,” said Dr. Ruiz. “This bill will put vaccines in arms, money in pockets, people in jobs, and students in schools. I voted to help seniors, veterans, high-risk people, communities, and essential workers get life-saving vaccines. I voted for the small business owner to receive assistance to keep their doors open and create more jobs. I voted for struggling families to receive $1,400 stimulus checks and a child tax credit up to $3,600 per child. I voted for our students to get back to school by funding schools to create a pandemic safe environment. I voted for the unemployed to receive an extra $300 a week in unemployment insurance to help pay their bills. I voted for housing and rental assistance for people worried they may be evicted or homeless. I voted to keep our teachers, police, first responders, and transit workers on payroll with state, county, city, and tribal funding to sustain and strengthen their services and programs for the people.”

The bill included the following priority issues for Dr. Ruiz:

  • Fighting for Environmental Justice: The bill includes $50 million for environmental justice grants, and $50 million for Clean Air Act grants, based on Dr. Ruiz’s bill, the Environmental Justice for Coronavirus Affected Communities Act.
  • Expanding Teaching Health Centers: The bill includes $330 million for expansion of the Teaching Health Center Program. Dr. Ruiz has long advocated for expansion of the program, including earlier this year when he introduced H.R. 949, the Expanding Teaching Health Centers Act of 2021, which authorizes and funds the program’s expansion.
  • Securing Urban Indian Health Programs: The bill includes two years of 100% FMAP for Medicaid services provided at Urban Indian health programs. Dr. Ruiz’s H.R. 1373, the Urban Indian Health Parity Act would permanently extend this provision.
  • Federal Funding for Tribal Health: The bill includes Dr. Ruiz’s bill, HR 1708, the Tribal Health Care Protection Fund Act to provide $2 billion for Tribal health programs to replace lost third party billing revenue.

BACKGROUND:

The American Rescue Plan will:

  • Put Vaccines in Arms: The plan will mount a national vaccination program that includes setting up community vaccination sites nationwide.  It will also take complementary measures to combat the virus, including scaling up testing and tracing, addressing shortages of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies, investing in high-quality treatments and addressing health care disparities.  
  • Put Money in People’s Pockets: The plan provides direct assistance to households across America with checks of $1,400 per person. The plan will also provide direct housing assistance and nutrition assistance for 40 million Americans; expand access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable health care; extend and expand Unemployment Insurance so that 19 million American workers can pay their bills; and support 27 million children with an expanded Child Tax Credit and 15 million low-wage workers through the Earned Income Tax Credit. 
  • Put People Back in Jobs: The plan will provide crucial support for the hardest-hit small businesses, especially those owned by entrepreneurs from racial and ethnic backgrounds that have experienced systemic discrimination, with EIDL grants, expanded PPP eligibility and more. The plan also provides crucial resources to protect the jobs of first responders, frontline public health workers, teachers, transit workers, and other essential workers that all Americans depend on.
  • Put Children Safely Back in School: The plan will make a nearly $130 billion investment in re-opening schools and making up for lost time in the classroom. These funds can be used for such things as reducing class sizes, modifying spaces so that students and teachers can socially distance, improving ventilation, implementing more mitigation measures, providing personal protective equipment, and providing summer school or other support to help make up for lost learning time this year. The plan also provides resources for higher education, Head Start, and childcare facilities.

The American Rescue Plan is strongly supported by a large majority of the American people – including 60 percent of Republicans – bipartisan state and local leaders, national education groups, trade unions and advocacy organizations, and hundreds of businesses and chambers of commerce. 

President Biden is expected to sign the American Rescue Plan into law this week.

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