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March 22, 2020

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Senate passed the House Coronavirus Bill (The Families First Coronavirus Response Act) on Wednesday, and it has been signed into law by the President. This is the second package from Congress dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak.
 
Congress and the Administration are now working on a third phase to further stem the impact of the outbreak on families and the economy which would include stimulus checks.
This bill responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.
It also provides FY2020 appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services for nutrition programs that assist the elderly.
The supplemental appropriations provided by the bill are designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.
The bill modifies USDA food assistance and nutrition programs to:
  • Allow certain waivers to requirements for the school meal programs
  • Suspend the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program)
  • Allow states to request waivers to provide certain emergency SNAP benefits
In addition, the bill requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard that requires certain employers to develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect health care workers.
The bill also includes provisions that:
  • Establish a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak
  • Expand unemployment benefits and provide grants to states for processing and paying claims
  • Require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees
  • Establish requirements for providing coronavirus diagnostic testing at no cost to consumers
  • Treat personal respiratory protective devices as covered countermeasures that are eligible for certain liability protections
  • Temporarily increase the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP)

We are continuing to monitor these rapidly changing situations, and will keep you updated on any developments.

As always, if you have any questions about how these announcements may affect you or your business, please contact your Whalen Advisor.  We are always ready and available for you during this unprecedented time.

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