Rep. Tom Reed

Rep. Tom Reed

Rep. Tom Reed on Tuesday announced health networks and hospitals from the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Western New York have pledged to work cooperatively to keep regions from backsliding as they reopen from the coronavirus lockdown.

“The agreement reflects a good-faith effort by medical providers to ensure local hospitals and health networks are effectively collaborating and coordinating as the region presses forward with reopening,” Reed said. “This level of coordination will also help to prevent specific localities from unfairly backsliding into additional shutdown orders, which would have devastating impacts on providers and the local economy.”

Reed said the region’s local hospitals and healthcare providers are “truly incredible, and I thank them for continuing to work with us to make sure communities across Western New York receive the care they need.”

By sharing resources and bed capacity, the region can continue to meet all the necessary health metrics and return to offering critical elective surgeries and out-patient procedures, he said

The network will help preserve the metrics so the Upstate regions can remain open and businesses can get restarted. Quest Diagnostics is also providing 3 million COVID-19 tests.

“We have to make sure we stay open and get back to work in a safe and sound fashion,” Reed told reporters during his weekly media call. “By working together, I’m confident we will be able to maintain those metrics.”

Reed also announced his support for the Smart Fund Act, which would provide $500 million for state and local governments in coronavirus relief.

The nearly $3 trillion Heroes Act, which set aside $1 trillion for state and local governments is a partisan bill that’s going nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate, Reed said. The Smart Fund Act already has bipartisan support. The Smart Fund Act contains about $500 billion, or about half of the money for state and local government as the House-passed Heroes Act.

“The Heroes Act is not going anywhere,” Reed said. “It was done for partisan reasons.”

The Smart Act will “bring people together in a bipartisan manner.” It also focuses on COVID-19, he added, while it includes $20 billion for Native American governments.

Reed said that under the Smart Act local governments would get their funds directly from the federal government, eliminating the chance the state would siphon off some of the grants. Two-thirds would go to the states and one-third to local governments.

The bill would be a landing pad for Phase 4, which Reed said would address liability reform and agriculture — on top of the $16 billion for farm relief in the $2 trillion CARES bill, Reed said. Expect Phase 4 to include some direct aid to the economy including an infrastructure bill. He also expects it to include more aid to farmers. Colleges and universities are in line for help to safely allow students to return to classes.

Reed said he agreed with House Democrats who are looking to add 15% to SNAP benefits and fund increased enrollment in the USDA Food Stamp program. “I do see a need for it,” he said.

However, Reed said his support would end when the county’s economic recession/depression from COVID-19 ends. Most of his Republican colleagues agree, he added.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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