President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that will boost the federal government’s health insurance enrollment to 10 million people and boost federal funding for research on a vaccine.
Trump signed the order while speaking at a hospital in the small, rural town of Rush, Arkansas, on Thursday.
The president had requested $250 million in additional federal funding to help pay for the effort.
The president has called for more research on the vaccine and has asked Congress to give him the authority to approve its use, according to the White House.
The order allows states to set their own rates, with the federal funds going to help cover the costs of administering the vaccine.
“Today we are taking a historic step toward making sure that all Americans have access to high-quality, affordable health care,” Trump said during the signing ceremony.
“We will ensure that every American has access to the best health care, with access to choices, as well as quality care that meets their individual needs.
We will continue to support states in making this change.”
The order allows for federal funding of up to $1 million for the first year, but only to cover an average of 5% of the cost of the vaccine, and it is subject to the states’ approval.
Congress will have to approve the funding by Jan. 4.
The executive order will be one of the first measures Trump has taken since his inauguration, but it was largely overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 1,000 people and sickened nearly 2,000, including about half of the country’s children.
The coronaviruses cause illness, including fevers and pneumonia, and are spread through the air.
As of Wednesday, more than 11,000 Americans had died of the disease, including more than 2,400 children, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since the coronas started sweeping through the country in late March, the number of new cases has more than tripled, the CDC said.
In the past two weeks, more people have been admitted to the hospital with coronaviral diseases than were admitted to all of 2015.
In response to the coronaves outbreak, the administration has announced a series of steps to help states, health care providers and communities prepare for a new round of outbreaks.
The president ordered an emergency declaration for five states that are in the path of the pandemic, and directed the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide $10 million in emergency funding to cover the cost to states of testing for coronaviriases.
The order also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue guidelines to health care institutions, including hospitals, to ensure the safety of patients, staff and the community, and to ensure that coronavidiols and other medicines are stored at a minimum distance of 50 feet from the patient.