Coronavirus: Congress nears stimulus deal

Details are scant on the proposed $900 billion compromise as the midnight deadline approaches.

Congress appears to be nearing a compromise stimulus bill to address the COVID-19 coronavirus and avert a government shutdown.

The details of the $900 billion bill have not been made available by the midafternoon Dec. 21, but the broad strokes of the compromise include $600 direct payments to taxpayers and a $300 increase to federal unemployment benefits.

The New York Times reported that the proposed bill includes $69 billion in funding for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and more than $22 billion for state-run testing, tracing, and mitigation programs.

Among the other provisions floated as being part of the bill is more than $284 billion in a revived Paycheck Protection Program which lapsed over the summer, the Times reports.

The bill also appears to include a ban on surprise medical billing forcing providers and insurers to settle on a fair price for services. That provision isn’t expected to go into effect in 2022, according to the Times.

Both chambers of congress are expected to vote on the bill Dec. 21 before a midnight deadline on government funding.

Some have already criticized the bill due to its size. The CARES Act, passed at the onset of the pandemic in March included $2.2 trillion in relief spending including some specifically earmarked to healthcare.

Details are currently unavailable on any specific provisions of the compromise bill which would help private primary care practices.