Coronavirus Toolkit

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Washington, June 3, 2020 | comments

For updates on the Coronavirus, please continue to check back here or visit the Centers for Disease Control 
 

COVID-19 Assistance Toolkit

These unprecedented times call for a unified front by the federal government to help Hoosiers struggling through no fault of their own. Congress has provided three phases of relief packages that put Americans first with aid for families, workers, small business owners, and health care providers on the front lines working tirelessly to save our friends, neighbors, and family members. We are giving America a fighting chance to both get through this health care crisis and save Main Street jobs that so many families depend on.

Below are resources to help Hoosiers residing in the Eighth Congressional District, their families, and businesses through this health care crisis and economic uncertainty. If you have further questions, please reach out to my office at Contact.Bucshon@mail.house.gov. It is important that you provide your name, address, phone number, and issue when contacting us.

Resource Links:

Supporting Hoosier Businesses and their Employees
Families and Individuals
Health Care Response and Resources  
CARES Act Provider Relief Fund
CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Fact Sheet
Unemployment Insurance Information  
Hoosier Agricultural Producers  
Paycheck Protection Program Loans (FAQs)
Letter from CMS to Clinicians 

Visit Bucshon.House.Gov for more information on Coronavirus or reach out to my office at Contact.Bucshon@mail.house.gov.

New Online Tools for Seniors Who Have Lost Health Coverage at Work

Important News: If you are a senior who has lost your health insurance coverage due to the coronavirus, you may be eligible to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period in Medicare Part B.

Who can apply? Any American who is 65 or older who has had group health plan coverage – or, job-based health care – within the last eight months of you or your spouse’s current employment.

Where can I apply? Seniors can apply online for Part B. CLICK HERE to do so. The Social Security Administration and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services also announced new online applications for Part B coverage. CLICK HERE to access SSA’s portal, and HERE for CMS’s.

What do I need? You will need your Medicare number, current home address and phone number, an email address, and documentation of your prior health care coverage.

If you don’t fall into this category, but have still lost health insurance coverage during this pandemic, there are options available for you too. CLICK HERE to see where you can find health care insurance as we continue to fight this virus.

The Treasury Department released a digital timeline going back to January 31, 2020 and up through today that shows al of the significant steps the Trump Administration has taken to respond to the public health and economic crisis cause by the spread of COVID-19. See it here: home.treasury.gov/Comeback 

https://home.treasury.gov/Comeback

                                              

President Trump has unveiled Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts. These steps will help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives.


Governor Holcomb has put together a plan to safely reopen Indiana.

"Let’s safely open Indiana’s economy and remain vigilant about protecting our health and well-being. We start by applying all we’ve learned about taking precautions to protect ourselves and others against this virus as we build business, employee and consumer confidence. Ultimately, we will get back on track and create an even stronger Indiana."

                                                                         

 


On April 1 President Trump updated the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” effort to "30 Days to Slow the Spread". These new guidelines recommend staying home if you are able and avoiding social gatherings of groups of more than 10 people. In addition, the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance issued April 4th, recommends that events that consist of 50 people or more should be canceled or postponed throughout the United States for at least eight weeks. Additionally, it is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

To keep you and your family safe, you must continue to practice good hygiene. Stay home if you are sick. Do not travel if you do not have to. All international travel should be postponed. The elderly and people with compromised immune systems should stay home as much as possible. Governor Holcomb has order that Hoosiers remain in their homes except when they are at work or for permitted activities, such as taking care of others, obtaining necessary supplies, and for health and safety. 

If you believe you may have the coronavirus, please call your doctor.

I voted for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This legislation will increase testing capabilities across the country. It also includes emergency measures to ensure that employees can take sick leave and that children have access to food services. President Trump signed this legislation into law on March 18, 2020. On March 4, I voted for the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provided nearly $8 billion in supplemental funding to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Congress passed phase three by voice, on March 24th the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) a third bill that will provide economic relief in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. It was signed into law by President Trump.

Congress passed additional funding by recorded vote on April 23, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that provides nearly $500 billion for small businesses, healthcare providers, and expanded testing. President Trump signed it into law on April 24, 2020. 

If  you are a small business owner, here are resources from the Small Business Administration during this time: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19. You can also call the SBA at 1-800-659-2955.

The Trump administration has extended the federal tax deadline until July 15, 2020. The Trump administration is also waiving interest on federal student loans at this time.

INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced that Indiana small businesses are eligible for financial assistance under a disaster designation by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

This declaration is in response to a formal request Gov. Holcomb submitted with the SBA on Tuesday, seeking assistance through the organization’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak in Indiana.

“Small businesses play a critical role in driving Indiana’s economy forward, with more than 512,000 employing 1.2 million Hoosiers across the state,” Gov. Holcomb said. “These disaster loans will provide much needed financial support to small business owners who are weathering the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.”

Under the program, small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits across the state are eligible to apply for low-interest loans up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 outbreak. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills incurred during this public health emergency. The loan interest rates for small businesses and nonprofits are 3.75% and 2.75%, respectively, with terms up to 30 years.

To qualify for disaster loans, applicants must demonstrate credit history, the ability to repay the loan, and proof of physical presence in Indiana and working capital losses. Additionally, the Indiana Small Business Development Center, which has 10 regional offices throughout the state, will provide free business advising and application assistance for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

To apply for loans or receive more information about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, visit SBA.gov/Disaster. Contact 1-800-659-2955 or disastercustomerservice@sba.gov withadditional questions. The deadline to apply for the disaster loans is Dec. 18, 2020.

For small business owners affected by coronavirus please visit The Indiana Small Business Development Center or the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Phase I Package

Small Businesses

I’m worried my small business will have to close due to financial issues. Will there be more assistance?

Secretary Mnuchin has made clear immediate assistance is on the way. Moreover, H.R. 6047— the first Coronavirus bill— allowed $1 billion in loan subsidies to be made available to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture producers, and nonprofit organizations which have been impacted by financial losses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This funding could enable the Small Business Administration to provide an estimated $7 billion in loans to these entities. In addition, provides $20 million to administer these loans.

Phase II Package

Small Businesses

My small business can’t afford to pay sick leave.

H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed by the House — includes a refundable payroll tax credit to reimburse—dollar-for-dollar—local businesses for paid sick leave and family and medical leave wages paid to employees that are affected by COVID-19. Click here for an explanation of who is eligible and for what amounts.

The leave is fully funded by the tax credit, but my small business will be interrupted by cash flow issues.

H.R. 6201 provides significant relief to businesses that otherwise may not be able to afford the employee costs associated with coronavirus-related paid leave.  Treasury has broad regulatory authority to advance funds to employers to protect businesses concerned about cash flow.  In a March 14th press release, Treasury stated that “employers will be able to use cash deposited with the IRS to pay sick leave wages.  Additionally, for businesses that would not have sufficient taxes to draw from, Treasury will use its regulatory authority to make advances to small businesses to cover such costs.”

The legislation exempts businesses with more than 500 employees from mandated paid leave while imposing the requirement on small- and medium-sized job creators.

The benefits under H.R. 6201 are not an expense for the business, rather it operates as a benefit to both the worker and the employer.  The legislation will ensure that every dollar of leave that an employer is required to pay is reimbursed—dollar-for-dollar—by the federal government.  It will allow workers to care for themselves and loved ones impacted by coronavirus.  Additionally, the credit will help businesses to stay up and running.  After all, workers who knowingly show up sick jeopardize the health of coworkers and business operations.

Nearly 90% of businesses with more than 500 employees offer paid sick leave to their full-time workers.  To facilitate more universal coverage of paid sick leave, H.R. 6201 provides temporary federal coverage for paid sick and family leave to all employers with fewer than 500 employees.

Does the bill mandate an unaffordable extension of FMLA on my small business?

H.R. 6201 as passed by the House permits the Secretary of Labor to exempt businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the longer-term mandate where it creates significant hardship.

How do employees find out if they can receive sick leave?CLICK HERE to download a pdf of the chart. 

Mandatory Employer Paid Sick and Family and Medical Leave

H.R. 6201— the second Coronavirus bill, as passed the House— requires employers to provide notice of eligibility to employees. The Department of Labor is required to create model notification within 7 days after enactment of the bill.

Unemployment Insurance

How does the H.R. 6201 support states that are experiencing a spike in claim for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19 layoffs and business closings?

The bill immediately provides $500 million in emergency administrative grants to increase state capacity to process unemployment applications and make payments. It also makes an additional $500 million available to states that experience a 10% percent increase in unemployment to provide 100% federally funded benefits to provide extra weeks of benefits.

CRS has released a 3-page explainer document that reviews the paid leave and unemployment insurance provisions here.

Phase 3 FAQ

INDIVIDUALS
Q: Unemployment Insurance – are the self-employed, gig workers, and contractors eligible?

A: Yes, the bill expands unemployment benefits to cover more workers including self-employed and independent contractors, like gig workers and Uber drivers, who do not usually qualify for unemployment. Overall, the bill provides $250 billion in funding for expansion of unemployment benefits, the largest increase ever.

SMALL BUSINESS
Q: Are non-profits, chambers, physician practices, eligible for 7(a) loans?

A: 501(c)3 non-profits are eligible. No other 501(c) organizations are eligible, including chambers structured as 501(c)6s. Physician practices are eligible, no matter how they are structured.

Q: Can small businesses can hire back previously fired employees and still have the loans forgiven? If so, what is the hire-back date?

A: Yes. There is flexibility in the program to allow businesses to hire new, or returning employees, by June, 30, 2020, and still qualify under the headcount requirements.

Q: How quickly will business be able to access loans?

A: We are working with the SBA on capacity issues, including onboarding new lenders. The SBA is assuring the Small Business Committee that they are ready to stand up all of the requirements within the Senate bill as quickly as possible.

Q: What does this bill do to provide relief for rural communities and farmers?

A: The bill includes a number of small business provisions designed to help farmers stay in business and take care of their employees during this difficult time. These include provisions that allow farmers to work with their trusted farm credit institutions for the purposes of securing payroll tax loans, along with 1-year deferrals, 100% guarantees, and low rates. The bill provides $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), the funding mechanism for all major USDA programs. It also appropriates an additional $9.5 billion to specifically respond to losses due to COVID-19. Additional funding is provided for USDA agencies that are on the front lines of responding to COVID-19, including the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The bill also includes $100 million to provide financing for rural broadband through the ReConnect program, and $25 million for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program to provide grants for equipment and connectivity improvements.

Q: Employee retention credit – how will this work?

A: The Employee Retention Credit provides a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in wages per employee (including health benefits) paid by certain employers during the coronavirus crisis. The credit is available to employers: • whose operations were fully or partially shut down by government order limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to coronavirus, or • whose quarterly receipts are less than 50% for the same quarter in the prior year. Wages paid to employees during which they are furloughed or otherwise not working (due to reduced hours) as a result of their employer’s closure or economic hardship are eligible for the credit. However, for employers with 100 or fewer employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit, regardless of whether they are furloughed or face reduced hours. To prevent double dipping, employers that receive Small Business interruption loans are not eligible for the credit. Additionally, wages that qualify for the required paid leave credit are not eligible for the credit. The credit is for wages paid by eligible employers from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020. AIRLINES

AND DISTRESSED INDUSTRIES
Q: Regional airports/airlines – what assistance are they eligible to receive?

A: Passenger airlines are eligible for $25 billion in loan authority and $25 billion in grants to maintain their operations, employee payroll, and contracts around the country. The bill also includes $4 billion in loan authority and $4 billion in grants for cargo air carriers. The bill also provides $10 billion in grants through the Airport Improvement Program to support projects and operations at airports around the country. It also provides $3 billion in grants for contractors employed by the airlines, to ensure that airlines can maintain existing operations contracts. The bill also includes $56 million for the Essential Air Service to maintain existing air service to rural communities.

Q: Within the tourism industry, who is eligible and how are the funds accessed?

A: All industries and firms are eligible to benefit from the broad financing from the Treasury fund to the extent they don’t receive sufficient assistance from other programs. How to access this support will depend on the size and model of the business and the exact facility used.

Q: What does this bill do to put restrictions on the airlines accepting grants and loans?

A: The loans come with conditions including: restrictions on executive compensation; prohibition on stock buybacks and the prohibition on paying dividends for the duration of the loan plus 12 months; the airline or business must maintain its existing employment levels through September 30, 2020 to the extent practicable, and in no case reduce it by more than 10%.

Q: How does it support airports and affiliated contractors?

A: The bill provides $10 billion in grants to airports to help them maintain employment, continue operations, clean and sanitize to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and service airport construction debt. The bill also provides $3 billion in payroll support grants to airline contractors, including baggage handlers, wheelchair pushers, and caterers. These grants can only be used for paying employees and contractors that receive grants must maintain current employment levels through September 2020. HEALTH CARE

Q: How does bill address the PPE and COVID-19 testing shortage?

A: The bill provides $16 billion explicitly for the National stockpile. This funding can purchase medical supplies, equipment, and medicine to be distributed to states.

Q: How does the bill help individuals with mental health needs?

A: EXPANDS TELEHALTH SERVICES: Opens up expanded telehealth services in the Medicare program, allowing seniors across the nation to receive any current telehealth approved service (not just COVID related services), including mental health and substance abuse services. This will allow seniors to receive critically important mental health and substance use disorder services in their homes without having to forgo care or risk infection by entering the community.

IMPROVED CARE COORDINATION FOR PATIENTS WITH SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER: Ensures that health care providers can more effectively care for patients with substance use disorders (especially those with comorbid mental illness and other chronic diseases) by better aligning the treatment of substance use disorder medical records subject to 42 CFR Part 2 with HIPAA.

REAUTHORIZES THE EXCELLENCE IN MENTAL HEALTH DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM: Reauthorizes and expands Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, which provide critical services both in person and via telemedicine to tens of thousands of vulnerable Americans with suffering with mental health or addiction issues.

PROVIDES ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO THE SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (SAMHSA): Provides a total of $425 million for SAMHSA to be used to support grants to address suicide prevention, mental and behavioral health priorities for tribes and tribal organizations, Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, and other emergency substance use disorder or mental health needs in local communities. Specifically:
• Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics: $250 million to increase access to mental health care services.
• Suicide Prevention: $50 million to provide increased support for those most in need of intervention.
• SAMHSA Emergency Response Grants: $100 million in flexible funding to address mental health, substance use disorders, and provide resources and support to youth and the homeless during the pandemic.

Q: Will emergency service providers be eligible for telehealth provisions?

A: Emergency service providers are still required to respond to the scene if they are dispatched through a 911 emergency call. However, emergency service providers will be able to use funds from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund in order to authorize treatment in place and alternative destinations of care besides the hospital for ground ambulance responders. These emergency service providers should be able to use telehealth tools and capabilities in order to treat patients on site or determine if they require care at an alternative site. These concepts of treatment in place and alternative destinations of care for emergency responders are found in the Administration’s Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) Model released last year aimed at providing greater flexibility for first responders and patients.

Q: Why aren’t phone calls – which are low-tech and easier than video conferencing – eligible for telehealth reimbursement?

A: We understand that seniors may have issues with video conferencing for telehealth purposes, particularly in areas where there is a lack of broadband, especially rural areas. The limitation on telemedicine was originally included as a guardrail by House Democrats in package 2 to ensure unscrupulous providers didn’t start reaching out to beneficiaries they had no relationship with to bill for unneeded or non provided services. But we all realize how important keeping our vulnerable seniors out of the community setting is during this public health emergency. We can only assume the Senate did not include phone calls to be eligible for telehealth reimbursement because doctors already complete many regular calls with seniors that are currently not billable. Without a clear delineation between those standard calls and new COVID authority related telehealth calls, there is not a good way to cover audio-only telehealth without a massive expansion in costs, even without patients receiving new services.

APPROPRIATIONS
Q: Are state and local governments are eligible for relief funds?

A: Yes, Eighty percent of funding provided by Division B, the appropriations section, goes out through existing grants to support state, local, tribal, and community grantees. Funding is provided to numerous programs within the Agriculture; Labor-Health-Education; Interior; Homeland Security; Commerce-Justice-Science; and Transportation and Housing subcommittees. For additional questions on Division B, please contact the Appropriations Committee. Some programs included within the appropriations division are:
• Community Development Block Grants – $5 billion
• Homelessness Grants – $4 billion
• Transit Agencies – $24 billion • Airports – $10 billion
• Assistance to Tribal Communities (Indian Health Service, Bureaus of Indian Education/Affairs, and Food Distribution) – $1.7 billion
• Disaster Relief Fund – $45 billion
• Emergency Food and Shelter Grants – $200 million
• First Responder (FIRE) Grants – $100 million
• Emergency Management Program Grants – $100 million
• Byrne Justice Assistance Grants – $850 million
• Economic Assistance Development Grants – $1.5 billion
• Manufacturing Extension Partnership Grants – $50 million
• Child nutrition – $8.8 billion
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – $15.8 billion
• Community Services Block Grant – $1 billion
• Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – $900 million
• Child Care and Development Block Grant – $3.5 billion
• CDC Funding for State Public Health Departments – $1.5 billion

Q: Are the DOD and VA eligible for relief funds?

A: The bill provides a total of $10.5 billion for DOD functions and programs, including $1 billion to expand availability of necessary supplies through the Defense Production Act, $3.4 billion for defense health care programs, and $1.5 billion to support the deployment of the National Guard. The bill provides a total of $19.6 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans programs. In addition, if VA is called upon by the federal emergency coordination council to care for non-Veterans, it will be reimbursed through the Public Health and Social Security Emergency Fund. Funding provided in the bill for the PHSSEF assumes VA will be reimbursed approximately $4 billion.

Q: How will funds be distributed to hospitals, including rural hospitals?

A: The bill appropriates $100 billion to hospitals and other health care providers. We believe HHS will hire a third-party claims processor, similar to a Medicare Administrative Contractor. This processer will use criteria, outlined by HHS, to determine (1) eligibility of provider, (2) justifiability of amount, (3) amount of claim, (4) payment, and any other information determined by HHS. We also assume there will be an administrative appeals process. We do not know specifics yet as this is a new program. The bill provides wide latitude to the Administration to determine program parameters.

Additionally, the bill provides money for providers through Medicare:
• Allows for accelerated Medicare payments. This will help hospitals, especially those facilities in rural and frontier areas, get the reliable and stable cash flow they need to help them maintain an adequate workforce, buy essential supplies, create additional infrastructure, and keep their doors open to care for patients.
• Creates a 20 percent add on payment for inpatient treatment
• Delays the sequester until the end of this calendar year, which gives providers both money and certainty

Q: Will nursing homes be able to access the same account as hospitals?

A: Nursing homes may be eligible, but that remains an open issue. Significant parameters will need to be issued by HHS on the process, information, and eligibility.

Additional Funding, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that provides nearly $500 billion for small businesses, healthcare providers, and expanded testing.

Background

Small Businesses

  • $310 billion for the Small Business Administration’s successful Paycheck Protection Program, which will allow the Trump Administration to continue providing forgivable loans to cover the cost of payroll and operating expenses for small businesses.
  • $60 billion for the Small Business Administration’s economic injury disaster loans and grants including:
    • $50 billion for economic injury disaster loans - each loan can be up to $2 million with interest rates not to exceed 4% and long-term repayment periods of up to 30 years; and
    • $10 billion for grants of up to $10,000 that do not have to be repaid. Additional funds are provided for the Small Business Administration to administer these programs.

Hospitals and Health Care Providers

  • $75 billion to support the heroes on the front lines of this crisis and our healthcare system, including additional funding to reimburse hospitals and healthcare providers for lost revenues and expenses related to the outbreak.

Testing

  • $25 billion to expand testing, which will provide information on where cases are occurring, and support continued efforts to reopen communities and reignite our record-breaking economy.




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