Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: What does the American Rescue Plan mean for New Hampshire?

For the Monitor
Published: 4/11/2021 12:00:05 PM

For more than a year, Granite Staters and Americans across the country have endured the greatest health and economic crisis of our generation. No one has been spared by the COVID-19 pandemic, from those who fell ill or were tragically taken by the virus, to those who lost their jobs or businesses, and families who are still struggling to pay the bills.

Our health care providers have been overwhelmed and financially stretched to the breaking point at a time when we need them the most, and our city and town governments face potential budgetary shortfalls that may impact first responders and other municipal workers who have been on the frontlines. These are only a sample of the stories I have heard from residents in every corner of the state, and while their circumstances varied, the message remained the same: we need help and we need it now.

The testimonies shared with me from Granite Staters who are most affected by this crisis drove my priorities during negotiations on the American Rescue Plan, which is the most significant COVID-19 relief legislation to date. The law includes $8.5 billion to support hospitals and nursing homes, over $14 billion for veterans and $3.9 billion in emergency funding for substance use and mental health programs.

In addition, this COVID relief delivers $350 billion to assist state and local governments, including expanded uses of these funds so communities have the flexibility to address the most pressing concerns. It also provides more than $750 million in assistance for our hospitality and tourism industries, more than $120 billion in support for elementary and secondary education, $40 billion for child care assistance and $45 billion in rental and mortgage assistance.

The American Rescue Plan enhances the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which has been a lifeline for thousands of Granite State businesses, provides $28.6 billion for a new Restaurant Revitalization Fund and allocates $1.25 billion more in funding to help live venues. I also worked to increase federal funding for COVID-19 vaccination efforts in smaller states, including New Hampshire, after a flawed formula deprived them of their fair share of resources.

And as we fight our way through this public health emergency, Granite Staters must have access to affordable, quality health care. That is why I worked to include portions of my bill – the Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act – to make more people eligible for premium tax credits to reduce their monthly insurance premiums, while also increasing the value of the tax credits for those who were already eligible. I encourage all Americans to visit Healthcare.gov today to check their eligibility.

So what does that mean for New Hampshire? Under this legislation, New Hampshire will receive more federal funding than it has in any previous COVID-19 assistance legislation, including more than $3 billion in assistance for our state and local governments and stimulus payments for working families. Significant federal assistance will continue to be distributed to New Hampshire in the weeks and months ahead through the provisions listed above.

More than $350.5 million is coming to Granite State schools to help them safely re-open, and I’ll work with the state to see that these funds are dispersed without unnecessary delays. I was glad to recently announce with the New Hampshire congressional delegation that more than $20.2 million is on the way to help our community health centers expand access to vaccines. In addition, the Child Tax Credit under the American Rescue Plan will help Granite Staters by increasing the amount to $3,000 and $3,600 for a child under six.

The scope and duration of the COVID-19 crisis increased in ways most of us did not imagine one year ago. But as the conditions of the pandemic changed, so did our response. This legislation only recently became law, but we’re already seeing federal dollars reach our communities. I’m continuing to work in good faith with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address other concerns to help people weather these difficult days.

That’s why I partnered with Senator Collins to extend the deadline for Paycheck Protection Program applications and to prevent Medicare payment cuts that would impact our health care providers. Our PPP bill was recently signed into law and our health care legislation cleared the Senate and is on its way to the House of Representatives. Americans are not out of this crisis yet, but by working together we will get there. As we fight through these challenging times, my top concern will always be the well-being, safety and security of Granite Staters.

(Jeanne Shaheen is New Hampshire’s senior U.S. senator.)




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