The U.S. Senate Has Taken Action for Georgia and America

It’s time to get much needed support to our frontlines in this battle against COVID-19. Through Phase 3 we’re working to help our health care professionals and hospitals, ensure small businesses keep employees on payroll, put money directly into the hands of families and stabilize our economy amid this unprecedented health and economic crisis.


The CARES Act will help our doctors, nurses and hospitals care for COVID-19 patients and provide certainty for small business owners, workers and families.

For Hospitals and Health Care Workers:

  • $100 billion to reimburse hospitals for care of COVID-19 patients and to make up for losses in revenue
  • Offers financial support to providers through a 20 percent Medicare payment rate increase for coronavirus patients
  • $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile to purchase medical equipment including ventilators and swabs, and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks to distribute to states  
  • $1.3 billion in funding for Community Health Centers, and allowing them to use already available funding to maintain or increase staffing capacity
  • $275 million to expand services at rural hospitals, telehealth programs, poison control centers, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program
  • $250 million in hospital preparedness funding  
  • Increases access to telehealth services
  • $4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including $1.5 billion for helping state and local preparedness activities to address public health needs
  • Allows critical access hospitals to receive an interest-free cash infusion through the Medicare accelerated payment program

For Families:

  • Provides a direct cash payment of $1,200 for a single individual who made under $75,000, or $2,400 for a married couple earning under $150,000, plus $500 per child. That payment is reduced for individuals who made $75,000-$99,000 and couples who made $150,000-$198,000. Payments are based on 2019 tax returns, or 2018 returns if 2019 returns have not yet been filed.
  • Expands unemployment insurance to four months
  • Expands unemployment insurance to cover self-employed workers and “gig economy” workers
  • Prohibits foreclosures for 90 days on federally-backed mortgages for those who experience hardship related to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Defers payments on federal student loans for six months
  • $8.8 billion to Child Nutrition Programs to ensure children have access to nutritious, healthy meals
  • $15.1 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to provide food for low-income, unemployed, or vulnerable individual and families

For Small Businesses Owners:

  • $350 billion in loan forgiveness for small businesses who maintain employees on their payroll
  • $10 billion in Small Business Association (SBA) grants for business operating costs
  • $17 billion in SBA loans to cover six weeks of payments for small businesses with existing loans
  • $260 billion to support workers affected by the outbreak
  • For State and Local Officials:
  • $274 billion in emergency funding for state and local governments
  • $454 billion to support the Federal Reserves’ lending to eligible businesses, states, and municipalities
  • U.S. Committe on Small Business & Entrepreneurship: The Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act

For Veterans:

  • $14.4 billion to support healthcare services for veterans provided by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities and through telehealth
  • $2.1 billion for community-based veterans care
  • Allows the VA to expand access to mental health services for underserved and at-risk veterans through telehealth
  • Ensures that community-based home health workers can receive the PPE they need
  • Improves our ability to assist homeless veterans during the outbreak

For Farmers:

  • $9.5 billion for agriculture producers
  • $14 billion increase in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s borrowing authority
  • $100 million to expand broadband service in rural areas
  • $33 million to allow the Food Safety and Inspection Service to continue inspecting slaughter houses
  • $55 million to allow the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to continue operations including protecting U.S. agriculture from invasive pests and diseases.
  • USDA COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide

CARES Act Financial Recovery FAQs

Who is eligible for a recovery rebate? All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income under $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household and $150,000 married), who are not the dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible Social Security Number, are eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 married) rebate. They are also eligible for an additional $500 per child. A typical family of four is eligible for a $3,400 recovery rebate.

The IRS has released information explaining the economic impact payments (rebates), available at this link: Economic Impact Payments: What You Need to Know
 
What about taxpayers with adjusted gross income over $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household and $150,000 married)? Are they eligible to receive any rebate? The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children. For a typical family of four, the amount is completely phased out for those with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $218,000.
 
What if my income was above the threshold in 2019, but I’ve lost my job due to the corona virus? Can I still get a rebate check? If your income in 2019 was in the phase-out range you would still receive a partial rebate based on your 2019 tax return. However, the rebate is actually an advance on a tax credit that you may claim on your 2020 tax return. If your income is lower in 2020 than in 2019, any additional credit you are eligible for will be refunded or reduce your tax liability when you file your 2020 tax return next year.
 
Is the rebate taxable or will I have to pay back any amount if the rebate based on my 2019 return is larger than what it would be if based on my 2020 tax year return? No, the rebate is treated like other refundable tax credits, such as the child tax credit and earned income tax credit, and not considered income. Moreover, if the credit amount you qualify based on 2020 income is less than what you qualify for based on your 2019 tax return, it does not have to be paid back.
 
Who qualifies as a child for purposes of the rebate? Any child who is a qualifying child for the purposes of the Child Tax Credit is also a qualifying child for the purposes of the recovery rebate. In general, a child is any dependent of a taxpayer under the age of 17.
 
Do dependents, other than children under 17, qualify a taxpayer for an additional $500 per dependent? No, the additional $500 per child is limited to children under 17.
 
Are individuals with little to no income or those on means-tested federal benefits, such as SSI, eligible for a recovery rebate? Yes, there is no qualifying income requirement. Even individuals with $0 of income are eligible for a rebate so long as they are not the dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible SSN.
 
Are seniors whose only income is from Social Security or a veteran whose only income is a veterans’ disability payment eligible? Yes, as long as they are not the dependent of another taxpayer. The bill also provides IRS with additional tools to locate and provide rebates to low-income seniors who normally do not file a tax return by allowing them to base a rebate on Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement or Form RRB-1099, which is the equivalent of the Social Security statement for Railroad Employees. However, seniors are still encouraged to file their 2019 tax return to ensure they receive their recovery rebate as quickly as possible.
 
Are college students eligible for a recovery rebate? Only if they are not considered a dependent of their parents. Generally, a full-time college student under the age of 24 is considered a dependent if their parent(s) provide more than half of their support.
 
I am eligible for a rebate, what do I have to do to receive it? For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required to receive a rebate check since the IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed or their 2018 return if they haven’t filed their 2019 return. This includes many individuals with very low income who file a tax return despite not owing any tax in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
 
What should I do if I did not file a tax return for 2019 or 2018? The best way to ensure you receive a recovery rebate is to file a 2019 tax return if you have not already done so. This could be accomplished for free online from home using the IRS Free file program (https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free). The bill also instructs the IRS to engage in a public campaign to alert all individuals of their eligibility for the rebate and how to receive it if they have not filed either a 2019 or 2018 tax return.
 
If I have a past due debt to a federal or state agency, or owe back taxes, will my rebate be reduced? No, the bill turns off nearly all administrative offsets that ordinarily may reduce tax refunds for individuals who have past tax debts, or who are behind on other payments to federal or state governments, including student loan payments. The only administrative offset that will be enforced applies to those who have past due child support payments that the states have reported to the Treasury Department.
 
*The above information is prepared by Republican Finance Committee staff for informational purposes and should not be relied on for legal advice. Individuals should consult the IRS or a tax advisor to address questions related to their individual circumstances.

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CARES Act - Detailed Information

We have heard from small businesses and employers across Georgia about how the Senate Coronavirus legislation, S.3548 - CARES Act, will address challenges facing this critical sector. Below are answers to the questions raised to us.

Paid Leave DOL Fact Sheets

Paycheck Protection Program FAQs for Small Businesses

U.S. Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 PPP Small Business Guide

Paid Sick Leave for Workers
For COVID-19 related reasons, employees receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded paid child care leave when employees’ children’s schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable.

Advanced Tax Credit for Employers
Employers who meet retain their employees and pay leave will receive an advance tax credit from the Treasury instead of having to be reimbursed on the back end.

Employers receive 100% reimbursement for paid leave pursuant to the act.

  • Health insurance costs are also included in the credit.
  • Employers face no payroll tax liability.
  • Self-employed individuals receive an equivalent credit.

Fast Funds
Reimbursement will be quick and easy to obtain.

  • An immediate dollar-for-dollar tax offset against payroll taxes will be provided
  • Where a refund is owed, the IRS will send the refund as quickly as possible.

For more information on the employer tax credit, please visit the Department of Treasury website.

Small Business Protection
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for an exemption from the requirements to provide leave to care for a child whose school is closed or child care is unavailable in cases where the viability of the business is threatened.

Easing Compliance
Requirements subject to 30-day non-enforcement period for good faith compliance efforts.

Unemployment Insurance

Provides much-needed support for American workers by significantly expanding the size and scope of unemployment benefits, including relief workers who are self-employed, as well as independent contractors.

I’ve lost my job as a result of COVID-19. How do I get help?
To apply for unemployment benefits, visit the state department of labor’s website where you can learn the requirements to apply online or over the phone. Link: https://dol.georgia.gov/blog/new-information-filing-unemployment-partial-claims-and-reemployment-services

I’m self-employed or an independent contractor who would not normally qualify for unemployment benefits. How do I get help?
The phase III legislation creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program which includes eligibility for those not traditionally included in unemployment insurance. Please fill out an application on the state Department of Labor website.

Are there any additional benefits available?
The phase III legislation provides an additional $600 per week to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Insurance for up to four months. This is in addition to existing unemployment benefits. 13 additional weeks of federal unemployment benefits are available after state unemployment is exhausted.

My business has kept employees on the payroll but reduced the hours they work. Is there any assistance available?
The legislation includes funding to help cover the costs incurred by an employer in this situation.

Are self-employed and independent contractors eligible?
Yes. Self-employed and independent contractors, like gig workers and Uber drivers, are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This also covers workers laid off from churches and religious institutions who may not be eligible under the state’s program.

What about furloughed workers?
Yes. States have policies in place to allow furloughed workers to receive unemployment benefits and part-time workers can receive partial benefits. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program also helps workers stay connected to their employer by allowing unemployment benefits for workers who have a job but are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19-related reasons and are not receiving paid leave through their employer.

How much do unemployed workers get?
It varies. Unemployment benefits across the country averaged $385 per week in February 2020 but vary significantly by state. Generally, a person’s benefits replace about 1/3 to 1/2 of their wages. The CARES Act provides an additional $600 per week on top of whatever a person would normally receive in their state – limited to the next 4 months (expires July 31, 2020). This will end up providing a higher than average wage replacement rate for low-wage workers.

Can individuals get more on unemployment than they got in their paycheck?
The additional $600 in weekly benefits is designed to keep as many workers as whole as possible through the emergency. Some may temporarily receive more benefit than their paycheck – though that number is very small compared to everyone receiving Unemployment. Of course, people receiving Unemployment do not receive health insurance, retirement or other important benefits that can be available at work. The temporary $600 is only available through July 31.

How long do unemployment benefits last?
It varies by state, but most states provide access to unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. The CARES Act provides federal funding for an additional 13 weeks for those who need it. Funding for this expires December 31, 2020.

Are unemployment benefits taxable and do they count as income?
Yes. Unemployment benefits are taxable income and they generally count as income when determining eligibility for public assistance programs.

What does unemployment insurance look like in my state?
To find out how to apply for unemployment in your state visit:

Key Facts

  • About $250 billion to Expand Unemployment Benefits: The Senate economic relief package provides much-needed support for workers by making a significant investment.
  • Unemployment Benefits for More Americans: The bill will make sure self-employed and independent contractors like Uber drivers and gig workers can receive unemployment.
  • More Money for a Longer Period for More Workers: It also makes benefits more generous by adding $600 per week on top of what the state normally pays in unemployment and provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits. And provisions will ensure state and local governments and non-profits can pay unemployment to their employees.
  • Temporary Provisions: Most of the unemployment provisions go through the end of 2020, in recognition of the temporary nature of this challenge.

The Details: State unemployment offices are experiencing an unprecedented spike in claims. Texas had more than 37,000 unemployment claims in just the first two weeks of March, compared to just 3,100 claims in the week prior. This would make a tremendous difference for keeping workers afloat.

Small Business Protection Program

The CARES Act provided $377 billion to help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under. The Paycheck Protection Program would provide 8 months of cash-flow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during the COVD-19 emergency. If the employer maintains payroll, the portion of loan used for covered payroll costs will be forgiven.

The Paycheck Protection Program is specifically designed to help small businesses keep their workforce employed. Visit SBA.gov/Coronavirus for more information on the Paycheck Protection Program.

The new loan program will be available retroactive from Feb. 15, 2020, so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020.

  • For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE
  • If you’re a lender, more information can be found HERE
  • If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE
  • The application for borrowers can be found HERE

Paycheck Protection Program:

  • This is a 7(a) Small Business loan that is 100% government guarantee. The size of the loan will equal the lesser of 250 percent of an employer’s average monthly payroll or $10 million.
  • Businesses with less than 500 employees can apply for the SBA 7(a) loan. Businesses with more than 500 employees should still check with their lender to see if they meet the SBA size standard.
  • Businesses can apply for a 7(a) loan by talking to their lender (bank, credit union, etc). The loans will be made available within 15 day of CARES enactment into law.
  • The loan portion that is used for payroll and debt obligations mandated by Congress will be forgiven. This includes payroll costs (salary, wages, payment of cash tips, employee group health care benefits, insurance premiums, retirement contributions, and covered leave), interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities. If a portion of the loan is used elsewhere, that portion will still be a 100% government guarantee and interest will not start to accrue for a year.
  • Q: One of the main ones I hear are from employers who want to know if there’s an alternative to laying off their employees so the employees will at least be able to collect unemployment.
    A: The purpose of the Paycheck Protection Program is to help you retain your employees, at their current base pay. If you keep all of your employees, the entirety of the loan will be forgiven. If you still lay off employees, the forgiveness will be reduced by the percent decrease in the number of employees. If your total payroll expenses on workers making less than $100,000 annually decreases by more than 25 percent, loan forgiveness will be reduced by the same amount. If you have already laid off some employees, you can still be forgiven for the full amount of your payroll cost if you rehire your employees by June 30, 2020.
  • TOP LINE: If a business has a question about eligibility, they need to talk to their lender.

Loan Terms & Conditions

Eligible businesses: All businesses, including non-profits, Veterans organizations, Tribal concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors, with 500 or fewer employees, or no greater than the number of employees set by the SBA as the size standard for certain industries

  • Maximum loan amount up to $10 million
  • Loan forgiveness if proceeds used for payroll costs and other designated business operating expenses in the 8 weeks following the date of loan origination (due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs)
  • All loans under this program will have the following identical features:
  • Interest rate of 0.5%
  • Maturity of 2 years
  • First payment deferred for six months
  • 100% guarantee by SBA
  • No collateral
  • No personal guarantees
  • No borrower or lender fees payable to SBA

 Visit https://home.treasury.gov/cares for more information on SBA’s assistance to small businesses.

How to find SBA certified lenders
GA SBA District office

How to become a certified SBA lender
become-sba-lender

Nonprofits
501(c)(3) nonprofits with less than 500 employees will be eligible for loans.

Tribal Businesses
Tribal businesses will be eligible as long as they meet the employment size standards.

Veteran Service Organizations
Organizations that serve veterans will be eligible as long as they meet the employment size standards.

Tax Relief

Delay of payment of employee payroll taxes
The provision allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees. Employers generally are responsible for paying a 6.2-percent Social Security tax on employee wages. The provision requires that the deferred employment tax be paid over the following two years, with half of the amount required to be paid by December 31, 2021 and the other half by December 31, 2022. The Social Security Trust Funds will be held harmless under this provision.

Modifications for net operating losses
The provision relaxes the limitations on a company’s use of losses. NOLs are currently subject to a taxable income limitation, and they cannot be carried back to reduce income in a prior tax year. This provision provides that a loss from 2018, 2019, or 2020 can be carried back five years. The provision also temporarily removes the taxable income limitation to allow an NOL to fully offset income. These changes will allow companies to utilize losses and amend prior years returns, which will provide critical cash flow and liquidity during the COVID-19 emergency.

Modification of limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations
The provision modifies the loss limitation applicable to pass-through businesses and sole proprietors, so they can utilize excess business losses and access critical cash flow to maintain operations and payroll for their employees.

Modification of credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations
The corporate AMT was repealed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but corporate AMT credits were made available as refundable credits over several years, ending in 2021. The provision accelerates the ability of companies to recover those AMT credits, permitting companies to claim a refund now and obtain additional cash flow during the COVID-19 emergency.

Modification of limitation on business interest
The provision temporarily increases the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns, by increasing the 30-percent limitation to 50 percent of the taxable income (with adjustments) for 2019 and 2020. As businesses look to weather the storm of the current crisis, this provision will allow them to increase liquidity with a reduced cost of capital, so that they are able to continue operations and keep employees on payroll.

Qualified improvement property
The provision enables businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, to write off immediately costs associated with improving facilities instead of having to depreciate those improvements over the 39-year life of the building. The provision, which corrects an error in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, not only increases companies’ access to cash flow by allowing them to amend a prior year return, but also incentivizes them to continue to invest in improvements as the country recovers from the COVID-19 emergency.

Tax Filing
https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-day-now-july-15-treasury-irs-extend-filing-deadline-and-federal-tax-payments-regardless-of-amount-owed

  • The federal tax filing and tax payment deadline has been extended to July 15th, 2020.
  • Georgia Governor Kemp has extended state tax filing deadlines to comply with the new federal date.

Individuals and Families

Rebate Checks
https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus

The IRS has released information explaining the economic impact payments (rebates), available at this link: Economic Impact Payments: What You Need to Know

  • Americans with a valid Social Security number will receive direct cash assistance.
  • The full credit amount will be $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for a couple, and an additional $500 per child.
  • These payments are available for individuals with an income at or below $75,000 ($112,500 for heads of household), and couples with income at or below $150,000.
  • The tax rebate will be reduced by $5 for each $100 your income exceeds these income limits. For individuals without children, they will not receive any rebate if their income exceeds $99,000. The same for couples with more than $198,000 in income.

Healthcare, Hospitals, and Testing

We have heard from hospitals and healthcare professionals across Georgia about how the Senate Coronavirus legislation, S.3548 - CARES Act, will address challenges facing this critical sector. Below are answers to the questions raised to us.

CDC Information for Healthcare professionals: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/index.html
CDC Resources for Clinics and Healthcare Facilities: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/index.html
CDC Healthcare Supply of Personal Protective Equipment: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/healthcare-supply-ppe-index.html
FDA COVID-19 Site: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-issues/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19#resources
American Hospital Association Request Letter: https://www.aha.org/system/files/media/file/2020/02/aha-ana-urge-congress-quickly-fund-health-care-readiness-for-coronavirus-2-27-2020.pdf

Contacting the FDA, HHS, or FEMA
How to Help - Companies With Medical Supplies, Equipment and Services:

  • To sell medical supplies or equipment to the federal government, please email specifics to covidsupplies@fema.dhs.gov.
  • If you have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please provide us details on what you are offering.
  • If you are a private company that wants to produce a product related to the COVID response email nbeoc@max.gov.
  • If you are a hospital and other companies in need of medical supplies, contact your state Department of Public Health and/or Emergency Management
  • For non-medical supplies, services or equipment, if you are interested in doing business with FEMA, visit our Industry Liaison Program.

For Testing Items:

Hand Sanitizer

Masks, Respirators, and Ventilators

General PPE:

On imports of PPE:
One of FDA’s priorities in combating the COVID-19 pandemic is facilitating access to critical personal protective equipment (PPE) and devices. They are engaging with importers and others involved in the import trade community during this pandemic to facilitate the entry of needed products, including PPE, into the U.S. These instructions to importers clarify the types of PPE that can be imported without engaging with FDA. They also include information about the type of information importers can submit to facilitate their entries. They have adjusted their import screening to further expedite imports of legitimate products and are continually monitoring their import systems to prevent and mitigate any potential issues.

The FDA established a special email inbox, COVID19FDAIMPORTINQUIRIES@fda.hhs.gov, for industry representatives to quickly communicate with the agency and address questions or concerns.

General FDA
COVID Related Guidance: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-issues/covid-19-related-guidance-documents-industry-fda-staff-and-other-stakeholders

General FEMA
Companies seeking to Import or Manufacture Medical Products to Aid the U.S. Response to COVID-19:  If a constituent company would like to import or produce medical products to help with the COVID-19 response, please send these inquiries to FEMA at  covidsupplies@fema.dhs.gov. Please include as many details as possible about the request (e.g., manufacturer name, address, product, and model number) and contact information for the company, either an agent in the U.S. or the company itself. If companies have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please email FEMA’s National Business Emergency Operations Center at nbeoc@fema.dhs.gov. For additional information, see https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help.

Hospitals

Access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and costs
  • Providers have been urged to take steps to preserve PPE, including cancelling elective surgeries and other procedures. Such cancellations could be devastating to hospitals, physicians and nurses already at financial risk. Supporting ongoing operational costs in the face of severe supply shortages is critical to maintaining the country’s ability to provide care to the most acutely ill patients during a potential COVID-19 pandemic, and the CARES Act does this by allocating $100 billion in funding to hospitals and providers.
  • The current CARES Act text includes $16 billion in funding for the Strategic National Stockpile to procure equipment such as masks and other personal protective equipment and medical supplies needed for healthcare workers. When combined with the first supplemental package, this totals to $16.5 billion.
Labor Costs
  • Providers are ramping up staffing, backfilling staff when necessary and special infectious disease units needed to care for patients under investigation for or with confirmed COVID-19 infection. This has increased provider costs.
  • The bill includes $100 billion in reimbursement to healthcare providers that will be distributed through HHS. This funding will help ensure healthcare providers continue to receive the support that need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue.
  • Health Resources and Services Administration: $275 million to expand services and capacity for rural hospitals, telehealth, poison control centers, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program.  Language is also included to allow Community Health Centers to use FY2020 funding to maintain staffing and capacity to address the coronavirus.
Capacity Issue
  • Many providers have raised concerns about bed space, housing, care and monitoring of patients who do not require hospitalization but must remain isolated to better ensure that hospital capacity is preserved for patients who require hospitalization. We have heard about the need to provide surge capacity using temporary structures, such as temporary hospitals that are deployed in a pandemic
    • Of the $100 billion in CARES is dedicated to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for aiding providers, part of this funding is available for building or construction of temporary structures, increasing workforce and training, and aiding surge capacity.
Elective Procedures
  • Providers have raised concerns about funding shortfalls because they are prioritizing taking care of COVID-19 patients while selectively turning away elective, non-emergency procedures.
  • The CARES Act includes $100 billion in healthcare provider funding that is partially meant to address revenue shortfalls due to the cancellation of elective procedures, as mentioned under the labor costs section.
  • HHS is still developing how this $100 billion will be distributed, and they are working with negotiators to provide technical assistance. We should have a clearer picture once HHS has provided further guidance on distribution of these funds.
  • The CARES Act also includes additional financial assistance for hospitals by suspending the 2% Medicare sequester and increasing reimbursement for patients receiving treatment for COVID-19. The bill also included a delay to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payment reductions, and allows certain hospitals to access Medicare accelerated payments.

Hospital Debt

  • The FED did not backstop the municipal bond market for hospitals taking on too much debt
  • Georgia Senator’s Perdue and Loeffler are sending a bipartisan letter to Chairman Powell asking to extend municipal purchase programs into longer term - therefore covering hospitals. Waiting for updates and they are aware KL would like to be involved. Sen. Perdue has an amendment out as well but they are not pushing it and trying instead for the Fed to issue guidance.

Telehealth

  • The CARES Act includes the following funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration: $275 million to expand services and capacity for rural hospitals, telehealth, poison control centers, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program.  Language is also included to allow Community Health Centers to use FY2020 funding to maintain staffing and capacity to address the coronavirus.
  • Telehealth services are enhanced at Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics in the CARES Act.
  • The CARES Act would allow dialysis patients to receive care exclusively through telehealth, and temporarily waive requirements for a face-to-face visit.
  • Our HRSA telehealth programs reauthorization bill is included in the current text of the CARES Act, and these grants will be used to help expand telehealth access in rural areas.
  • The bill allows high-deductible health plans with HSAs to cover, through 2021, "telehealth and other remote care services" prior to a patient's reaching the deductible.
  • The CARES amends the Medicare telehealth waiver, which was passed under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (phase 1), to remove the requirement that a beneficiary of a qualified provider under Medicare, Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program have a prior relationship with a provider during the previous three years. The original phase 1 language also directs Medicare to let policyholders confer with medical professionals by phone, including FaceTime, Skype, and other telehealth services, even if they don’t meet the requirement that that they live in a rural area or have some other qualifying condition

Veterans

The CARES Act provides $19.6 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including $14.4 billion to support healthcare services for veterans provided by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities and through telehealth in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and $2.1 billion for community-based care.

The bill also provides to VA with several emergency authorities to ensure that veterans receive the services they need during the COVID-19 outbreak, including:

  • Allowing the VA to enter into short-term agreements with telecommunication companies to ensure that at-risk and underserved veterans can retain access to mental health services via telehealth;
  • Ensuring that State Veterans Homes receive the personal protective equipment (PPE), medicine, and cleaning supplies they need to address the outbreak;
  • Allowing new enrollments and renewals for the Veterans Directed Care program to occur over the phone in order to maintain safe social distancing;
  • Ensuring that veterans with limb loss can utilize prosthetics from community-based providers;
  • Improving the VA’s ability to assist homeless veterans during the outbreak; and,
  • Clarifying that payments received under the CARES Act will not count against a veterans eligibility for VA benefits.

For up-to-date information on how the VA is responding to COVID-19 and the outbreak’s impact on the veteran community, please visit: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/

Schools and Education Leaders

Student Loan Borrowers

  • How does this legislation help those with student loan debt?
    The CARES Act allows borrowers to automatically defer payments on student loans for six months without incurring penalties or accruing interest.
  • What if I’m attempting to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness or a similar program?
    During this period, they will still be considered to be current for the purposes of various loan forgiveness programs.

Institutions

  • How will my institution of higher education meet the costs incurred as a result of this crisis?
    The Phase III package includes additional funding to institutions of higher education to support students and the schools. This funding will be distributed on a formula basis

HBCUs

  • What about historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)?
  • The legislation includes several provisions targeted directly at HBCUs. The Secretary of Education can defer loan repayments under the HBCU capital financing program. The Secretary can also waive certain program requirements for HBCU participation in federal grant programs for next year.


Assistance for Americans Traveling Abroad

As countries around the world take action to prepare for and respond to the coronavirus outbreak--including closing borders and prohibiting commercial flights--the State Department is tracking tens of thousands of Americans overseas who are trying to return home. As of March 30th, the State Department has coordinated the return of over 25,000 Americans.

I highly encourage any Georgian overseas during this time to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov in order to receive up-to-date information from U.S. embassies.

If you need assistance, please contact my office. My staff and I are in constant communication with the State Department advocating for Georgians who need help coming home. This is a complicated process, but my office is here to help.

Farmers

Farmer Relief

The CARES Act provides emergency funding to the office of the Secretary of Agriculture totalling $9.5 billion to support agricultural producers who have been impacted by COVID-19. Those who qualify for these funds include livestock producers, producers of specialty crops, such as fruits and vegetables, and producers that supply local food systems. Eligibility and distribution of the funds will be determined by Secretary Perdue.

The bill includes language that will increase the borrowing authority of USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). The CCC is a financial institution dedicated to stabilizing the ag economy. In the past, CCC has funded the Trump Administration's Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments for producers whose operations have been impacted by recent trade tensions.

Farm Operations

USDA COVID-19 Federal Rural Resouce Guide

The CARES Act includes $33 million to prevent a disruption in services from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). FSIS is responsible for ensuring that the United States' commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. These funds will ensure meat and poultry processing operations remain open and will continue to process Georgia’s farm products for sale.

The package also includes $55 million to facilitate continued operations at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS offers services, conducts inspections, and establishes best practices aimed at protecting U.S. agriculture from invasive species and plants. Such services will be crucial as farmers begin the planting season.

The bill provides $3 million to maintain operations of the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The funding will ensure that local FSA offices have appropriate staff to oversee and implement various USDA programs essential during the growing and harvesting season. The legislation also includes language to extend the term of marketing assistance loans for an additional three months, from the current limit of nine months. Marketing assistance loans provide producers interim financing at harvest time to meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows.

For more information on the services provided by Georgia’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices, visit https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Georgia/index.

Support for Rural Communities

The CARES Act includes $145.5 million dedicated to aiding rural communities.

The bill provides $20.5 million for the Rural Business Cooperative Service and includes language to increase the agency’s borrowing authority for the Business and Industry loan guarantee program. These provisions will provide much needed financing options for rural business owners that may not qualify for other loan assistance programs. For more information on the services offered by USDA’s Rural Business Cooperative Service, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/about-rd/agencies/rural-business-cooperative-service.

The package also includes $100 million for USDA’s Reconnect Pilot program, which offers grants to fund construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service to rural areas.

The Rural Utility Service received $25 million to support the agency’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Program, which provides grants to rural communities’ to support access to telecommunications-enabled audio, and video equipment, as well as other related technologies to students, teachers, and medical professions to enable distance learning and telemedicine. More information on USDA’s DLT grant program, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic/covid-19.

The bill includes $15.1 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to cover waiver authorities authorized in the Phase 2 package, which expanded states’ flexibility to implement and expand the program as well as prepare for an anticipated increase in participation during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The CARES Act provides $8.1 billion to USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program. These funds will allow states to continue providing nutritious and affordable meals to children and adults that would otherwise receive meals through schools or other programs.

This package also provides $450 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which funds the purchase and distribution of essential food items through Georgia’s extensive food bank network.

Food Relief

The CARES Act includes $25.06 billion for various USDA programs dedicated to acquiring and distributing food to families and children affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. More information on USDA’s food assistance programs can be found at https://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic/covid-19.

The bill includes $15.1 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to cover waiver authorities authorized in the Phase 2 package, which expanded states’ flexibility to implement and expand the program as well as prepare for an anticipated increase in participation during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The CARES Act provides $8.1 billion to USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program. These funds will allow states to continue providing nutritious and affordable meals to children and adults that would otherwise receive meals through schools or other programs.

This package also provides $450 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which funds the purchase and distribution of essential food items through Georgia’s extensive food bank network.

State and Local Governments

How will the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for states and local government be allocated?

  • Coronavirus Relief Fund (Sec. 5001) – A program created under the Department of the Treasury to provide funding to States, Tribes, and localities to offset lost revenue as a result of the coronavirus public health emergency.  The bill provides an appropriation of $150 billion to be distributed by formula based on population.  Eligible local governments may apply directly to the Treasury for funding and amounts paid to a state will be reduced accordingly.

Who is eligible to apply and receive funding?  

  • States, eligible local government, Tribal governments, DC, and the territories.

How is funding distributed?

  • Funding is paid based on a state share of the total population, subtracting any amounts paid to local governments.  
  • No state can receive less than $1.25 billion.  
  • $3 billion is reserved for the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.  The amount for each is based on population.  
  • $8 billion is reserved for Tribal governments after consultation.  

What is the timing for distributing funds to states?  

  • Funds must be paid within 30 days of enactment.

How is funding allocated to states?  

  • State receive an amount equal to their relative population, deducting any amount that may have been paid to units of local government within the state who applied for funding independent of the state.  

What criteria is used to determine if a local governments can apply?  

  • A local government means any county, municipality, town, or other unit of general government with a population greater than 500,000.        
  • Smaller units of local government will need to work with their states to access funding.

How much can local governments receive if they apply directly?  

  • In no event will the total amount allocated directly to local units of government exceed 45% of the state’s allocation.
  • A local government may receive 45 percent of the amount provided to the state times its relative population to the state
    Ex: Town Population X 45%*(total amount for state) State Population

How is population determined?  

  • The most recent year for which data are available from the Bureau of the Census.

What can funds be used for?  

  • Funds may only be used to cover the costs associated with necessary expenses incurred as a result of the coronavirus diseases 2019 public health emergency, not accounted for in the most recently approved state budget, for calendar year 2020.  The fungibility of certain aspects of public budgeting and the general sorts of revenue shortfalls that are expected in the current economic climate makes it unclear how restrictive those limitations will be in practice.
  • Covered by protections and restrictions that apply to annual LHHS appropriations, including Hyde.


  • The “CARES” Act ensures that only taxpayers who are actually eligible for cash assistance receives it.
  • The process for receiving these funds are simplified for seniors and individuals with disabilities who did not file taxes to ensure they get these dollars quickly.

In the CARES Act, the Phase Three coronavirus package, Americans will receive direct cash assistance. In order to receive this federal money, the individual must have a valid Social Security number – meaning that those who receive welfare and Social Security benefits are eligible for this assistance. Individuals who are in the country illegally cannot. CLICK HERE to learn more about what this means. CLICK HERE to learn more about Social Security numbers.

So, how much money will you receive? The full credit amount ($1,200 individuals, $2,400 couples, $500 for children) is available for individuals with income at or below $75,000 ($112,500 for heads of household), and couples with income at or below $150,000. And if you have children, you will receive an additional $500 per child.

Your tax rebate amount will be reduced by $5 for each $100 your income exceeds the above income limits. That means for those without children, an individual will not receive any rebate if their income exceeds $99,000; and the same is true for couples with more than $198,000 of income.


Senate Republicans and Democrats have unveiled legislation to provide emergency relief to workers, families, small businesses, and distressed industries. The full package is big, targeted, and will make a difference. Here are the health details.

Key Points:

  • Gets more resources into the hands of our providers quickly
  • Expands access to care for patients
  • Support our public health response
  • Removes limitations employers and individuals face on their HSA-eligible plans

What you need to know:

  • Treatment for COVID-19 Patients is a Priority: To help patients, the bill invests in our medical system in several ways:
    • First, the bill provides money for providers through Medicare:
  1. $100 billion for a new program to provide grants to hospitals, public entities, not-for-profit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers and institutional providers to cover unreimbursed health care related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the public health emergency resulting from the coronavirus and
  2. $16 billion to the Strategic National Stockpile to procure personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other medical supplies for federal and state response efforts
  • $11 billion to support research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to prevent or treat the effects of coronavirus
  1. Funds community health centers through November 30, 2020
  2. Reauthorizes key rural grant programs to strengthen rural community health
  • Invests $30.750 billion into a flexible Education Stabilization Fund to help states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs face increased costs as they deal with the safety and health issues related to coronavirus as well as continue to develop plans for providing online learning for all students
  1. The bill also expands telehealth services for home health and hospice.
  2. Overburdened physicians need relief, so nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants will be able to prescribe home health services.
  3. Finally, the bill makes it easier for post-acute facilities to be fully utilized during this crisis.
  4. Eliminates Red Tape for Employers and Individuals: The bill ensures that Americans are able to use all tax-favored health care accounts, like HSAs and FSAs, to buy over-the-counter medicines tax-free without a prescription. In addition, high deductible health care plans with HSAs will now be able to provide coverage pre-deductible for telehealth services.

    The Details: The CARES Act provides unprecedented resources to providers during these unprecedented times. Moreover, patients who need care should be able to receive care, especially those seniors who need to be able to communicate with their providers in the lowest risk setting possible. Easing the rules that permit access to telehealth and increasing provider capacity would help maintain continuity of care and free up time and inpatient resources to treat coronavirus patients.

    CLICK HERE to learn about the Senate CARES bill tax provisions.

    CLICK HERE to learn about the Senate CARES bill unemployment provisions.

    CLICK HERE to learn about the Senate CARES bill small business provisions.

    CLICK HERE to learn about the Senate CARES bill distressed industries provisions.


There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Additional information from the CDC