House passes Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Below is a high level summary of the emergency supplemental bill that passed the House late last week by a vote of 363-40. Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin spent the majority of Monday working through some “technical corrections” before sending the bill across the Capitol. Word now is that the Senate could take up the multi-billion dollar package as early as today.

Summary of HR 6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (as passed by the House)

Paid Sick Leave: establishes a program to provide sick and quarantined workers with two weeks of emergency paid leave, including tax incentives to employers to provide additional sick days to their employees, and provides $1 billion in grant funding to help states manage and expand their unemployment insurance programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Sick Leave:
    • Requires all employers to grant full-time employees seven days of sick pay and an additional 14 days during the event of any public health emergency (including the current COVID-19 crisis). (Part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours that they work in a typical two-week period.)
    • Requires employees to be paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate to care for a family member for such purposes or to care for a child whose school has closed, or if child care is unavailable, due to the coronavirus.
  • FMLA:
    • Provides employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers, who have been on the job for at least 30 days with the right take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under FMLA. After the two weeks of paid leave, employees will receive a benefit from their employers that will be no less than two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay.
  • Tax Incentives:
    • Establishes optional tax credits for employers for qualified sick leave wages and family medical leave wages and extends similar tax credits for these lost wages to individuals who are self-employed. The tax credits are available for wages paid during the period that begins within 15 days of enactment and ends Dec. 31, 2020.
    • Allows employers to receive a tax credit for wages they are required to pay under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (as provided for under the bill). The tax credit is optional.
    • Self-employed individuals would also receive a tax credit for sick leave and family medical leave, to be credited against their income tax.
  • Unemployment Insurance:
    • $1.0 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance (UI) benefits

Coverage: requires private health plans to cover diagnostic testing for COVID-19 at no cost to consumers.

  • Insurance Coverage:
    • Requires private health plans, Medicare Advantage Plans, TRICARE, veterans plans, federal workers’ health plans, and the Indian Health Service to cover, at no cost to the patient, the COVID-19 diagnostic test, and a provider, urgent care center, or emergency room visit in order to receive testing.
    • Permits states to extend Medicaid eligibility to their uninsured populations for the purpose of COVID-19 diagnostic testing.
    • State costs for medical and administrative costs would be matched by the federal government under the bill.
    • Appropriates $1 billion for HHS’ Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund for diagnostic testing to be administered to the uninsured.
  • Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP):
    • Increases by 6.2% during the COVID-19 emergency the FMAP matching assistance the federal government provides to states during the emergency.
  • Respirators:
    • The measure also requires personal respiratory protective devices to be covered under the PREP Act during the COVID-19 emergency. The emergency declaration for respirators will expire on Oct. 1, 2024. Note: The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act permits HHS to issue a declaration that provides immunity from tort liability for claims of loss caused by countermeasures (i.e. vaccines, drugs and products) against diseases or other threats of public health emergencies.

Food Assistance: appropriates $1.2 billion to the USDA and HHS to provide additional nutrition assistance to affected areas and populations, including low-income seniors and their caregivers, local food banks, pregnant and postpartum women, and students who lose access to school lunch programs as a result of COVID-19-related school closures. It also grants states additional flexibility in providing nutrition aid under Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Child Nutrition Program.

  • Authorizes the USDA to provide additional nutrition assistance to families with children who are eligible but unable to receive free or reduced-priced meals because their schools are closed for more than five days due to the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Authorizes USDA to provide additional funds to state agencies to make emergency allotments to households participating in SNAP.
  • Appropriates $500 million to the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
  • Appropriates $400 million through FY 2021 to the USDA Commodity Assistance Program for emergency food assistance, which helps USDA purchase and provide foods to elderly and low-income individuals.
  • Provides $250 million to HHS for the Senior Nutrition Program.

Stay tuned; TASC Gov. Affairs will provide additional updates as developments warrant.