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Coronavirus Legislation

Legislation:

Phase Three – Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:
The third response package was signed into law March 27, 2020.

  • The measures contained in the CARES Act are designed to stabilize our economy and protect families in this uncertain time.
  • $250 billion for the purposes of expanded access to unemployment benefits.
    • Provides additional $600/week payment to each Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipient for four months beginning April 1 through July 31, 2020.
    • Creates a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to help those not traditionally eligible for UI, such as self-employed and independent contractors, like gig workers and Uber drivers, as well as those who are unable to work or telework as a result of the coronavirus public health emergency.
  • Provide grants and loans to small businesses to meet payroll and pay rent.
    • The bill creates a “paycheck protection program” for small employers, self-employed individuals, and “gig economy” workers, with $350 billion to help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under due to economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • The “Paycheck Protection Program” would provide 8 weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency.
    • If the employer maintains payroll, the portion of the loans used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven, which would help workers to remain employed and affected small businesses and our economy to recover quickly from this crisis.
    • This proposal would be retroactive to February 15, 2020, to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls.
  • Send direct checks to eligible Americans of up to $1,200 per person and $500 per child.
  • $100 Billion in direct grants to hospitals struggling with immediate cash flow short falls.
    • Kansas hospitals will receive an estimated total of $1.15 billion, but we are awaiting guidance from HHS to know that full and final allocation. 
  • Allow regulatory relief so banks can grant loan forbearance for otherwise healthy businesses struggling while business has been shut down.
  • Provide Treasury and the Fed the ability to provide several trillion dollars in assistance to distressed industries, including airlines, through guaranteed loans while also including strong accountability protections.
  • $9.5 billion to the Secretary of Agriculture to "prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by providing support for agricultural producers including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools, and livestock producers, including dairy producers." The funding is not limited to specific agricultural crops or producers.
  • $14 billion for replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC).
  • Rush resources to hospitals, doctors and other front-line providers. 
  • Expand the use of telehealth medicine to surge capacity to diagnose and treat patients in a safer and faster environment.
    • Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics are approved to furnish telehealth services to beneficiaries in their home or other setting. Medicare would reimburse for these services at a composite rate similar to payment provided for comparable telehealth services under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.
  • Hospitals will receive an increased payment that would otherwise be made to a hospital for treating a patient admitted with COVID-19 by 20%. This add-on payment would be available through the duration of the COVID-19 emergency period. 
  • The CARES Act includes a total of $150 billion in funds to be used for State fiscal relief. There is flexibility on how these funds may be used.
    • Of the $150 billion, Kansas will be allocated $1.25 billion.
    • These funds will provide immediate relief to the State and will allow the State to act quickly to address its most immediate needs.

Phase One – Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act:
The first response package was signed into law March 6, 2020.

  • The first package included $4 billion to increase testing capabilities; and to support treatments to ease the symptoms of those infected with the virus.
  • As part of this Kansas received a $5.9 million grant. This grant is intended to help build the state's capacity to increase testing and treatment for those diagnosed with COVID-19. This grant was also intended to help provide states with funds to purchase the needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure that health care workers are safe.

Phase Two – Families First Coronavirus Response Act:
The second response package was signed into law March 18, 2020.

 

 

  • Included in the second supplemental funding package were the following resources. These resources have not yet been noticed for direct grants but will have significant impact and benefit to the state.
  • $1.2 billion to help cover the costs of testing, including $142 million to directly help our service members and veterans.
  • Provided a temporary increase in the federal share of Medicaid spending.
    • The required coverage of testing for Medicaid patients will result in an increased financial burden on states the federal government is increasing the federal share. The second package provided states with a 6.2% Medicaid FMAP increase for all medical services for the duration of the public health emergency.
    • This increase will result in a preliminary rough estimate of $220 million increase in payments to Kansas from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. This is contingent upon the National emergency lasting through the remainder of the calendar year. 
  • $1 billion into the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for the National Disaster Medical System to pay provider claims for testing and services related to testing for uninsured individuals.    
    • The federal government will be taking on the costs associated with treating the uninsured in an effort to remove an additional burden from states.
  • $1 billion for emergency administrative grants to state unemployment agencies that can be used to help with spike in claims, processing and applications. The funds are separated into two allotments. The first is immediately available, the 2nd allotment is available to a state that experiences a 10% increase in claims from the previous quarter.
    • Kansas will receive a total of $9.5 million.

Other Actions:

  • The president declared a national emergency on March 13, allowing states to access more than $42 billion in existing funding to combat the coronavirus, giving the Small Business Administration authority to make more than $7 billion in loans, waiving interest on all student loans held by the federal government, allowing HHS to waive regulations to give maximum flexibility to healthcare providers, and accelerating testing.
  • The CDC announced that they’ve awarded $560 million to state and local jurisdictions, including $5.9 million for Kansas.
  • The IRS announced that they have removed barriers to allow high-deductible health plans to pay for COVID-19 testing and treatment, without jeopardizing their status.
  • Multiple private insurers are looking to cover the full costs of testing.
  • There is federal funding going to develop new vaccines and treatments, though we don’t expect to see a vaccine for this virus until next year.
  • The administration is working on producing tests and ensuring that all states are able to test for COVID-19.
  • Knowing that the coronavirus is particularly harmful to vulnerable populations, CMS has instructed nursing home surveyors to prioritize the review of nursing homes’ capabilities to prevent the spread of infection and address any infection outbreak. They additionally issued new guidance on visitation policies to ensure that exposure to infectious diseases is mitigated.
  • As various schools, colleges, universities and businesses move to e-learning and telework, I’ll be working with my colleagues to ensure that broadband access – especially during this critical time – is part of the conversation.
  • Many local and national businesses are also stepping forward to make sure their customers are safe – whether that’s through routine cleanliness, changing or reinforcing cancelation or transfer policies, or encouraging ways to be healthy.
  • The administration is clamping down on false claims of cures for the coronavirus. This will put an end to those preying on fears and trying to capitalize on the threat of COVID-19.
  • Our office has reached out to all 17 county health departments in our District to discuss their preparedness and procedures. The counties have responded and we are working to make sure that any lapses are addressed. They also indicated that the information and planning from the CDC have been timely.
  • Learn more about COVID-19 legislation and other federal responses on the House Ways and Means coronavirus FAQ page.