National Union of Healthcare Workers supports the HEROES Act H.R 6800

NotesJune 8, 2020

The National Union of Healthcare Workers strongly urges the U.S. Senate to pass the Health Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives on May 15. The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion assistance package that includes $200 million hazard pay for all essential workers who have risked their lives during the COVID-19 public health emergency, bonus pay for healthcare workers and first responders, and child care subsidies for healthcare workers and emergency service workers. While healthcare workers around the country battle COVID-19, these benefits will ensure that their efforts are recognized and that they receive the support and compensation they deserve.

In addition, the HEROES Act includes the Scientific Integrity Act, which prohibits the fraud and manipulation of critical medical information and provides whistleblower protections for healthcare workers. The safety of patients depends on healthcare workers being able to receive, record, and report accurate information affecting community health and safety.

In addressing a COVID-19 outbreak at one of our facilities in Orange County, hospital management recently misinformed us that only two patients had been infected. We later learned that over 42% of patients were infected, along with 22 workers. Safeguards such as those in the Scientific Integrity Act would help ensure that in the future, worker and patient safety are not so carelessly put at risk.

COVID-19 is also taking a toll on the mental health of many people across the country. The HEROES Act allocates $200 million to the National Institute of Mental Health to address the country’s mental health needs, with provisions for a focused study on COVID-19’s impacts on mental health. The HEROES ACT also includes the creation of a national mental health hotline that would, for the first time, provide patients with easy access and an immediate connection to the help they need.

This legislation also implements the hiring of a Federal Medical Supplies Response Coordinator who will utilize the Defense Production Act to ensure all healthcare workers have access to PPE and other equipment necessary to protect themselves and their patients. Lastly, the bill includes the Every Worker Protection Act, which requires the establishment of additional, temporary safety and training standards to address conditions in the face of the pandemic.