Congressional negotiators cut a measure that would have provided $3 million to fund a program to address mental illness among health care workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, The Daily Beast reports.
Congress passed a $2.3 trillion joint spending package, including a $1.4 trillion government spending bill and a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill earlier this week, though the fate of the package is unclear after President Donald Trump threatened not to sign the bill.
But Congress left the health care worker measure out of the final 6,000-page package “at the last minute,” according to the report.
Democrats blamed Republicans for cutting the bill out of the final package.
Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act:
The Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, named after a longtime New York City emergency room doctor who committed suicide in April amid the city’s outbreak, was aimed at addressing the rates of mental illness and burnout among frontline health care workers.
The president of the American Medical Association warned this fall that the pandemic has “brought physician wellness to a crisis point.”
A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers introduced the bill in July and nearly every major health care group endorsed the legislation.
Supporters hoped to include the bill in the coronavirus relief package or year-end spending bill but the measure was cut out of the final text.
Dems blame GOP:
“We pushed hard for inclusion of the bill. It was on the table until late in the process,” a spokesperson for Sen. Tim Kaine, who co-sponsored the measure with Bill Cassidy, Jack Reed, and Todd Young, told the Daily Beast. “We were initially hopeful it would be included and were disappointed to find it didn’t make it into the final package.”
Democrats placed blame on Republicans. One Democratic aid said the GOP insisted on “weakening it too severely” during negotiations.
“Democrats offered [the bill] a number of times but it was not accepted by Republicans,” another aide said.