COVID-19 Federal Responses: Thursday, May 7, 2020

COVID-19 Federal Responses: Thursday, May 7, 2020

Among the various ideas under consideration for additional legislative relief measures, Congress is considering lifting the budget caps for fiscal year 2021. Congress set the federal budget caps for FY 2020 and FY 2021 when it passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 -well before the COVID-19 public health emergency. Congress is beginning to move past the immediate COVID-19 response legislation and is trying to return to some of the regular legislative business that needs to be addressed, including funding the government in FY 2021. House and Senate appropriators are discussing the exemption of certain health programs from the budget caps as they considers FY 2021 appropriations.  

Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as President Trump, are continuing to establish their priorities for the next relief bill. These ideas include funding for state and local governments, liability protections for businesses and healthcare workers, and various tax relief ideas – such as suspending the payroll tax.

  • House Democrats could introduce their own version of new relief legislation as early as Friday, May 8. This bill is not expected to receive any Republican support and is therefore unlikely to become law.

A news report states the Small Business Administration (SBA) is decreasing the loan amounts it will award under its Disaster Loan Program, which is a form of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). The report states the SBA will reduce the maximum disaster loan from $2 million to $150,000. The report also indicates the SBA has a huge backlog of applications. In addition to reducing the maximum loan amount, the SBA will also limit the types of applicants to those with agricultural interests. The SBA has not made an official announcement about the changes to its Disaster Loan Program that were described in the news report.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) extended the deadline for providers to submit their attestations for their Provider Relief Fund payments from 30 days to 45 days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a new public website where it is posting details about which providers and hospitals received funding from the provider relief fund, as well as how much the entity received.

CMS released additional frequently asked questions (FAQs) to aid state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new FAQs cover a variety of Medicaid and CHIP topics, including emergency preparedness and response, benefit, financing, eligibility and enrollment flexibilities, information technology, and data reporting.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander said he believes millions more tests are needed before we can safely reopen the country.

The roster of legislators who will serve on a special oversight committee, which will monitor how the trillions in coronavirus funding is allocated, is now set.

A group of Republican legislators and administration officials have formed a special task force that will examine various threats posed by China, including claims that China withheld and manipulated information about their COVID-19 cases.