COVID-19 Update, 03/19/2020
Here is a more in-depth version of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act would provide:
*If you would like to have a more in-depth look at this legislation, please reach out to a Bellevue Strategies associate*
- Free coronavirus testing.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA):
- FMLA has been extended to cover the inability to work due to the care of a child. FMLA covers 12 weeks of leave.
- The first 10 days of the emergency leave may consist of unpaid leave, but include 2/3 pay for the remainder up to 12 weeks.
- The bill provides that the amount not exceed $200 per day and $10,000 “in the aggregate”.
- The bill also allows the Secretary of Labor to exempt employers with 50 employees from the emergency FMLA leave requirement, “when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern”.
- The bill mandates that employers with fewer than 500 employees provide paid sick time to workers. This applies if the worker is sick with or has been quarantined due to COVID-19, is experiencing symptoms of the disease and seeking medical attention or is caring for a child in the event of a school closure.
Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of such leave, while part-time employees are entitled to time equal to the number of hours they work on average over a two week period. The leave does not carry over.
- Although the bill covers free coronavirus testing it does not require that insurers cover the doctor visit and most out-of-pocket costs that are associated with the initial test. This thus may limit the number of people who go to the doctor’s office to get the initial test.
- Other states have extended their healthcare enrollment periods to allow individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid to enroll in the ACA (they must have their own state-run exchanges), the federal bill does not open up new enrollment periods. This is especially an issue for college students who may be enrolled in student health plans.
- The bill does not include any language about surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers.
- The bill allows states to enroll all uninsured individuals in Medicaid, but this is limited to only medical assistance for testing–it does not include treatment for the care that may follow from Covid-19.
- The bill requires Medicaid and Medicare to cover testing without cost-sharing, but it does not include treatment or visits related to Covid-19. This is an issue for individuals who visit their doctor’s office and have symptoms for Covid-19, but due to the lack of tests available are not able to get tested will not be covered.
- In Pennsylvania, the unemployment office has received 120,000 claims for unemployment benefits. This is more than half of what Pennsylvania reported for the entire first quarter of 2019.
- In New Jersey, the unemployment website crashed on Monday due to a surge in claims.
- Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation fund started the year with a $3.4 billion balance, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
- In Connecticut, 30,000 people applied for unemployment.
- A bill in the U.S. Senate would help states with unemployment benefits once their state’s unemployment rates rise above 10%.
- Michigan House and Senate voted for a $125 million spending bill that includes funds for infection control and medical supplies.
- In California, the legislature passed a $1 billion package that increases hospital capacity and among other things provides beds for the homeless population.
- Many states have passed bills that would pay for protective equipment and hand sanitization for schools.
- Safety net hospitals are urging Congress to increase the match rate it pays to states Medicaid. Currently, the match is between 50% to 70% depending on a state’s per capita income. In addition, many of these hospitals are urging Congress to not change Medicaid eligibility requirements that would keep people out of the program.
Gov. Wolf Orders all Non-Life Sustaining Business in Pennsylvania to close Physical Location as of 8pm tonight
- Gov. Wolf today ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses and dine-in facilities at all restaurants and bars across the commonwealth to close. Enforcement Actions for non-Compliance will begin on Saturday, March 21.
- A list of businesses that are exempt can be found here.
- 1,320 people have been tested in Pennsylvania and 44 confirmed cases have been in Philadelphia.
- The PA Department of Education announced today that the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments and Keystone Exams will be canceled this year.
- Pennsylvania Supreme Court has suspended all evictions due to the coronavirus.
Here is a list of the co-sponsorship memos and bills that have been introduced at the state level:
CO3366 Rowe, David (R)
- Suspends the imposition of and collection of sales tax and personal income tax until the disaster declaration is lifted
CO3367 Matzie, Robert (D)
- Extends the traditional application deadline of the LIHEAP (Low Income Heating Assistance) program until all funds are expended.
CO3368 Kaufer, Aaron (R)
- Requests a waiver from the federal government for self-employed individuals to be able to collect unemployment compensation during emergency situations.
CO3369 Cephas, Morgan (D)
- Waives interest on student loans through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) and loans issued by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA)
CO Martin, Scott (R )
- Requires the refund of all pre-paid unused fees including room and board by institutions of higher education.
City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Foundation and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey Launch PHL COVID-19 Fund
- The City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Foundation (PF), and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) today announced the PHL COVID-19 Fund, to aid nonprofits.
- The fund is starting off with $6.4 million.
- More information on this fund can be found here.
- Our firm is working with all our nonprofit clients to make sure they apply and receive funding. Please reach out to us if you have questions or need more assistance.
- Starting on Sunday, SEPTA trains, buses and subways will be on a reduced Saturday schedule. This is a 25% reduction in services but will include 24-hour subway services to area hospitals. SEPTA reported a 60% decrease in ridership on Wednesday. There was an 8% decrease on the Regional Rail.
- Regional Rail is running on a winter storm schedule.
More in-depth update from our Senior Associate Steven Chintaman on what is happening in Philadelphia:
The City of Philadelphia in partnership with the Philadelphia Foundation and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey announced today the PHL COVID-19 Fund, to aid non-profit organizations that are at the forefront of this crisis, and you can find it here.
The PHL COVID-19 Fund, PHLCOVID19Fund.org, currently holds $6.4 million in funding, including a $3 million gift from the William Penn Foundation. The Fund will accept applications from 501(c)(3) organizations in the Greater Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey region with a successful track record of serving at-risk populations who are experiencing the negative health and economic effects of COVID-19.
Accordingly, grants will support organizations that are currently serving populations, such as children and families who are experiencing food insecurity, seniors, people with disabilities and those who are experiencing homelessness. Grants will be made on a rolling basis to address the most immediate needs and will be calculated based on the organization’s operating budget. The Fund also anticipates supporting organizations for economic recovery and the continuation of services.
In addition, City officials are working with PIDC to develop a Tiered Lending Program that will provide emergency funds to businesses making less than $5 million at 0% interest rate, www.pidcphila.com/covid-19. This lending program will likely be announced on Friday, March 20th or Monday, March 23rd. An emergency session of City Council and Appropriations Committee hearing has also been scheduled for March 26, 2020, whereby Council will likely vote to approve an $85 million transfer ordinance to the Mayor’s Administration to help mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 has increased to 44 in the City of Philadelphia. As of now, Citizens Bank Park is scheduled to be an active testing site effective Friday, March 20th.
Here is a crowdsourced list of things you can do with your family at home as well as cool things you can see at home from around the world, such as the Nightly Met Opera Streams.
How to Help
One of our associates is writing cards for individuals who can not see their families and loved ones during this time at the Ingles House. If you are interested in writing cards, please reach out to Julie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Good News of the Day
IKEA finds a treasure trove of face masks; celebrities donate; and, how to make a great paper airplane!
As world healthcare systems clamor to keep up with medical supply demands amidst the COVID-19 outbreaks, an IKEA in Sweden has become an unexpected benefactor of the nation’s biggest hospital.
Earlier this week, employees at the Stockholm location were reportedly stunned to discover a stash of more than 50,000 medical face masks gathering dust in their warehouse. (Via The Good News Network)
From all of us here at Bellevue, stay safe and stay healthy!