Congress and the Trump administration advance largest relief package in U.S. history
On Friday, March 27, 2020, the United States Congress cleared and President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which provides $2.4 trillion in spending to respond to the public health crisis and economic fallout for individuals and businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This package is the largest in American history and provides a broad range of provisions, including payments to local governments, grants for medical response efforts, loans to small businesses and rebates to eligible individuals, among other things.
From New York to California and Texas to Maine, governors throughout the country have advanced policies to increase COVID-19 screenings, provide for more supplies and medical equipment needed for the treatment of patients, and issued stay-at-home orders, and school and non-essential business closings. Every state in the nation has issued a state of emergency, and Departments of Insurance are releasing a range of guidance that impacts the enterprise, requesting information on preparedness, grace periods for premium payments, waivers on cost-sharing, telehealth, and requiring early refills of medication without additional authorization.
The legislation provides funds directed to health care providers on the front lines of the crisis. It also funds grants and loans to small businesses and affected industries, as well as direct payments to eligible Americans (expected to be 150 million households) and extended and increased unemployment insurance for workers who are laid off. Included is $350 billion in loans to small businesses to maintain their employee payrolls for up to eight weeks and $500 billion to provide liquidity to eligible businesses related to losses incurred due to the coronavirus. The stabilization package contains hundreds of billions of dollars to help American businesses cope with a slowing economy.
The legislation also includes a delay of employer payroll taxes, suspension of an across-the-board Medicare payment cut for the rest of the year, coverage for a COVID-19 vaccine without cost sharing, and flexibility for high deductible health plans to cover telehealth.
Further legislation is expected to help our nation respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming weeks. We will continue to update you on these important policy matters.