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Congress Passes End of Year Federal Spending and COVID-19 Relief Legislation

December 22, 2020

Update: On Sunday, December 27, President Trump signed the legislation including $900 billion in COVID-19 pandemic-related relief and $1.4 trillion in government spending.

On Monday, December 21, Congress passed H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which provides funding for the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2021, additional COVID-19 pandemic-related relief, and other important health measures that impact people with MS.

MS Activists' hard work throughout the year resulted in significant advances for Society funding and policy priorities including: 
  • Ending surprise medical billing: Patients will be held harmless from receiving surprise medical bills.
  • Investing in broadband access in rural and underserved areas: The bill provides $7 billion to expand broadband access for students, families and unemployed workers, including $300 million for rural broadband and $250 million for telehealth.
  • $20 million for the MS Research Program at the Department of Defense – a $4 million increase over last year.
  • $7.1 million to the Lifespan Respite program – a $1 million increase from last year
  • $42.9 billion to the National Institutes of Health to fund biomedical research – a $1.5 billion increase from last year.
  • $5 million for the National Neurologic Conditions Surveillance System at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue implementation of the MS and Parkinson’s Disease pilots
Congress also addressed additional COVID-19 related concerns from MS Activists’ by:
  • Providing direct payments for Americans: Individuals making up to $75,000 a year will receive a payment of $600, while couples making up to $150,000 will receive $1,200, in addition to $600 per child.
  • Providing funding for COVID-19 mitigation programs, vaccine purchasing and distribution: The legislation provides money directly to states for testing, tracing and COVID-19 mitigation programs, including funding specifically targeted at needs in underserved areas, including both communities of color and rural communities.
  • Extending unemployment insurance benefits through March 14, 2021: People who are unemployed will receive an additional $300 a week in federal assistance and will be able to rely on unemployment for a longer period of time. This assistance is also available to self-employed individuals, gig workers, and individuals who have exhausted the benefits in their states.
  • Providing support for Rental Assistance: Emergence Rental Assistance was made available to states, U.S. territories, local governments, and American Indians and Alaska Natives to help eligible households that are facing difficulties during the Public Health Emergency for up to 12 months of support.
Click here for a comprehensive list of resources and relief provided by Congress and the Administration to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay up-to-date on the latest information on COVID-19 from the National MS Society here

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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