COVID-19: Federal Policy Update on April 23, 2020

In this week’s Federal Policy Update from Policy Officer Ellen Taverna, learn about the current interim COVID-19 3.5 Federal Package, the upcoming COVID-19 4 Federal Package, small business and nonprofit loans and grants, and special guests in Ellen’s Friday webinar.

As always, thank you to The Arc of the United States for their updates and leadership of our community’s national policy efforts.

COVID-19 “Package 3.5”

On Tuesday, April 21, the Senate passed the $480 billion “COVID-19 3.5 package.” This is interim emergency legislation, for which the main component is additional funding to the small business loan programs, in addition to funding for hospitals and healthcare providers and testing capacity. We anticipate the House will pass this proposed legislation today and the Administration will sign into law immediately.

The interim COVID-19 legislation (referred to as COVID-19 3.5) has two parts:

  1. Paycheck Protection Program Increase Act of 2020 – adds $300 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for a total of $659 billion for small businesses (including nonprofits). It increases access to the PPP for small, minority, and women-owned businesses by creating a set-aside for Insured depository institutions, credit unions, and community financial institutions. It also adds $10 billion for the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) Grants for a total of $20 billion.
  2. Hospitals and Testing – provides $75 billion for reimbursement for hospitals and healthcare providers and $25 billion for testing capacity, of which $11 billion is for states, localities, etc. for testing and tracking capacity; and up to $1 billion may be used to cover costs of testing for the uninsured.

Once this interim emergency package becomes law, it will be even more important to reach out to legislators about our priorities as they turn full attention to the next package. The Arc hopes for movement on the 4th package as soon as Congress is back in session, currently scheduled for May 4, 2020.

Some Lenders Accepting Applications Now for Next Round of Loans/Grants

Even though the House has yet to vote on the “COVID 3.5” bill, to replenish funding for the popular small business (including nonprofits) loan and grant programs, some lenders are already accepting applications.  If Chapters have not yet applied, they are encouraged to check with their lenders to see if they are accepting applications yet.  It has been reported that the next round of loan/grant funding could be depleted in 1-3 days after the funding is made available to the Small Business Administration.  See more here.

Next Steps: 4th COVID-19 Package

As Congress negotiates its 4th COVID-19 bill, we must continue to ask them to pass a bill that addresses the specific and critical needs of people with disabilities, including:

  • Funding for a Medicaid grant program to support access to home and community-based services (to combat institutionalization) and to support the DSP workforce. Congress should pass the Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) for direct support professionals. This is urgently needed to protect the health and safety of this critical workforce. Direct support professionals must be designated as essential workforce so that they have access to the PPE and medical supplies they need.
  • Paid leave for caregivers. As more people with disabilities lose their usual sources of care, family caregivers are scrambling and need access to paid leave and sick days to help their loved ones. Congress should include all family caregivers in the emergency paid leave provisions.

Click here for The Arc action alert to contact Congress.

Special Guests on Federal Update Friday (April 24, 2020 at Noon ET)

Dan Burke, President/CEO of Lifeworks and The Arc of South Norfolk, and Nicole Jorwic, Senior Director, Public Policy at The Arc US, will be joining Ellen Taverna’s Friday Federal Update on April 24 to discuss the role of current and future COVID-19 stimulus packages in supporting the stability of The Arc Chapters and their staff to provide services to people with I/DD and autism. To register for Friday’s webinar, click here.

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