COVID-19 Update | December 13, 2020
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Dear Friend,

This week, I joined my colleagues in the House voted to implement a weeklong stopgap to continue funding the federal government.

By doing so, we can finish our negotiations with House leaders and vote on an actual appropriations package and provide further pandemic relief for the American people.

With House leadership stalling over the past few months to provide essential COVID-19 relief to our families, workers, and small businesses, time is of the essence to provide aid and extend available funds from the CARES Act that was passed in March.

On Thursday, I spoke with C-SPAN’s Pedro Echevarria, where I urged House and Senate leaders to promote bipartisan negotiations while determining both a spending package and a much-needed, bipartisan COVID-19 relief.

This deal should encompass targeted relief ideas that have gained bipartisan support over this year, such as giving our governors the flexibility to spend CARES Act money that they have already received, extending the Paycheck Protection Program that consistently helped our small businesses, hotels, and restaurants; and, it is essential that we agree to unemployment compensation for struggling families.

We have seen the fruits of these initiatives in Arkansas, and it is paramount that we continue to renew and implement these programs in order to help our country economically recover from the pandemic.

Democrats and Republicans have agreed to continue vital discussions on the final 2021 appropriations and critically needed targeted relief from the ravages of COVID-19. I will continue to fight for the needs of central Arkansans and continue to urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come to the table and produce pandemic relief that will help alleviate the struggles of Americans during this crisis. Let’s get the job done. 

Supreme Court Victory for Arkansas Pharmacies

Reinstating Arkansas Law

Last Thursday, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled to reinstate an Arkansas law, which allows our state to ensure that pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) do not pay less than wholesale rates to local community pharmacies.

I am proud that this commonsense approach was supported by the high court. This ruling is a major victory for independent pharmacists and Arkansans who deserve access to lower health care prices.

The role of a PBM is to process prescription drug claims and then reimburse the pharmacies.

The Arkansas legislature originally passed this law because they noted that community and independent pharmacies often received low reimbursement rates for generic drugs, causing many independent and rural pharmacies to close.

This law will help ensure that they are fairly reimbursed, and it will help keep community facilities open, which provide so much more than prescriptions to the local community.
This case — led by Arkansas, along with 45 other states, the District of Columbia, and the Trump Administration — is a notable achievement for lowering prescription drug prices and supporting independent pharmacies.

Congressional Oversight Commission Hearing

Earlier this week, the Congressional Oversight Commission held its third public hearing with Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

During the hearing, we examined funds authorized by the CARES Act, which provide up to $17 billion for loans and loan guarantees to businesses that are critical for maintaining national security during the pandemic.

After conducting oversight into these loans, I expressed particular concern with a loan provided to YRC Worldwide, a trucking company. Our Commission has a responsibility to ensure these COVID-19 relief programs work and get answers for the American taxpayers.

I explained that I believe the loan may have been a misstep by the federal government, as YRC Worldwide has been hanging on by a thread since the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and has survived only because of government bailouts and financial assistance from the private equity industry.

As a former Arkansas banker, I stated during the hearing that if I were still in finance, I would not have underwritten this loan.

Through my role on the Congressional Oversight Commission, I will continue to ensure that American taxpayers’ dollars are put to good use during the pandemic.

Veterans Affairs Announces Plan for Vaccine Distribution

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced a plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, to be implemented after the Food and Drug Administration authorizes an emergency COVID-19 vaccine.

In particular, the VA has collaborated with Operation Warp Speed and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to deliver a safe and effective vaccine for VA staff and veterans.

The VA determined that vaccines will go to front-line VA health care workers and veterans in long-term care units in 37 of its medical centers across the country. These centers were chosen specifically for their ability to vaccinate large groups of people and for their capability to store large amounts of vaccinations at a specific temperature.

Health care workers will be the first to receive the first batch of vaccines due to their heightened exposure to COVID-19 and their role as caretakers of veterans in these care units.

After further vaccine supplies arrive, additional veterans may receive vaccinations based on age, health, and other similar factors.

To read the full VA press release, visit HERE.

For more information, veterans should visit the VA Coronavirus Vaccine FAQs webpage, contact their care team, or visit their facility website. 

ACDS Implements ReSkill Program for Arkansans

Providing Employment During the Pandemic

Amidst the health and economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, I am pleased to announce that the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences (ACDS) has launched a program for free technology training and apprenticeships. This program is a wonderful way to help Arkansans who are looking for work.

I am pleased to say that this program — co-sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Office of Skills Development and Professional, and Workforce Development at the University of Arkansas — has been supported by $750,000 from the CARES Act, which my colleagues and I passed in March.

Since the program’s launch on November 1, 2020, 252 candidates have applied, and about 140 are in the process of applying. Moreover, the ACDS urges more Arkansans to apply, with the hope of having 1,000 applicants by May. The program expects to fill about 300 jobs through ReSkill.

I commend the ACDS for seeking more employment opportunities for Arkansans struggling from the pandemic. Together, we will continue to fight against the virus and help restore our economy to its pre-pandemic state.

To learn more about the ReSkill program, visit the ACDS website HERE.


Inspiring Students in Arkansas

It was a pleasure recently to join President Bill Clinton, Governor Asa Hutchinson, Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, and Congressman Rick Crawford to experience Arkansas history firsthand.

Last Thursday, students from Nettleton STEAM Intermediate School met with NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration - astronauts live aboard the International Space Station to discuss science in outer space.

I congratulate the students of Nettleton STEAM Intermediate School for this opportunity, and I commend them on the hard work they put into their projects this fall. The students’ water filtration systems, robotic arms, plant growth chambers, and space suits are an amazing achievement for primary education and an inspiration for all schools in Arkansas.

These students are exemplary young scientists: using the tools and technology of today to help solve the problems of tomorrow.

I thank Arkansas PBS for facilitating this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Arkansas students and viewers to learn more about outer space travel and life aboard the International Space Station.


Both Federal and Private Insurance Enrollment Period

If you plan to enroll in 2021 Marketplace health insurance or wish to change your existing coverage, now is the time to do so. There are 2 more days remaining until the deadline on December 15th, 2020, to make these changes. Plans purchased during this period will take effect on January 1, 2021.

If you do not complete your enrollment by Tuesday, December 15th, you will be unable to get 2021 coverage unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

  • Create an account HERE
  • Update your application and compare plans for 2021 HERE
  • Preview 2021 plans with estimates based on income HERE

The open enrollment period for Medicare ended on Monday, December 7, 2020. Any changes made during the open enrollment period to either enroll within Medicare or change a current plan will take effect on January 1, 2021.

For more information about your current plan’s costs, benefits, and rules for 2021, please visit HERE.

It is important to note that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be more changes than usual this year when enrolling within private and employer-based insurance plans.

I am proud to have a dedicated team in Arkansas who can assist you with matters involving the federal government. If you have any questions about Social Security benefits, the Internal Revenue Service, or federal healthcare programs, please contact my office at (501) 324-5941 or visit Hill.House.Gov  

Representative French Hill 
Representative French Hill

Office Locations
Washington, DC Office
1533 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2506
Fax: (202) 225-5903
Conway Office
1105 Deer Street, Suite 12
Conway, AR 72032
Phone: (501) 358-3481
Fax: (501) 358-3494
Little Rock Office
1501 N. University Ave., Suite 630
Little Rock, AR 72207
Phone: (501) 324-5941
Fax: (501) 324-6029
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