House Committee passes $208M COVID vaccine relief bill

January 25, 2021

Today, the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed a proposal to allocate $208 million for COVID vaccine relief. The proposal now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Drawing from the Contingency Reserve Fund, this proposal would appropriate the $208 million as follows: $63 million to DHEC, $45 million to MUSC and $100 million to establish the COVID-19 Vaccine Reserve account, used to help offset the various costs associated with administering the vaccine. Only hospitals who are offering public appointments and COVID-19 vaccination providers who are enrolled and activated by DHEC will have access to this funding. The use of these funds are limited to: vaccination, continued testing/contact tracing, PPE/medical supplies, mobile units, personnel/staffing costs, education & marketing campaigns, quarantine, transportation & storage, general operations, costs associated with running large-scale community vaccination sites, and technology. The proposal also expands the authority of certain individuals to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, as was requested by hospitals and other providers.

“Today the Ways and Means Committee has acted swiftly and decisively to help protect the citizens of South Carolina,” said House Speaker Jay Lucas. “The initial handling and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has been unacceptable. It is necessary for the legislature to act in every way possible to improve our state’s overall response to this phase of the pandemic. We must ensure citizens are receiving the vaccine as quickly, efficiently and effectively as possible, ultimately saving lives – all things that have not been happening. I plan to have the full House of Representatives address this measure as quickly as possible. I hope for swift consideration by the Senate. Time is of the essence.”

“Our state’s response to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been off to an unsatisfactory start,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith, Jr. “This funding will provide much-needed assistance to DHEC, MUSC and other appropriate entities as they navigate the process of providing our state’s citizens with the COVID-19 vaccine as efficiently as possible.”

The full proposal can be found here.