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News & Press: Government Affairs News

House Democrats Release Text of Fourth Stimulus Bill

Tuesday, May 12, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Bradley Coffey, MA, AAOE Government Affairs
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Washington, DC - House Democrats have unveiled legislative text of the fourth COVID-19 related stimulus bill. Titled the HEROES Act, the 1,815-page bill is a laundry list of Democratic priorities, costing at least $3 trillion and covering appropriations for a broad array of programs and services. Of interest to AAOE members, the legislation includes an additional $100 billion for healthcare providers but includes significant new restrictions on how this money may be spent. This new funding would be distributed to providers on a quarterly basis and based on cost reports that would be submitted by providers (it's likely this would be similar to the application process used for the second tranche of funding provided by the Department of Health and Human Services under the first CARES Act). Providers would be eligible to receive up to 60% of lost revenues compared to 2019 revenues.

Funding would be restricted from covering executive compensation and like the first round of provider relief payments, providers would be barred from balance billing patients and/or charging uninsured patients for treatment of COVID-19. Aid previously received under the first round of provider relief payments would be subtracted from the quarterly amounts distributed under this new funding process.

The legislation would also:

  • Extend the Paycheck Protection Program through December 31, 2020,
    • Length of time to use the funds would be extended from 8 weeks of payroll to 24 weeks
  • Directs the Federal Reserve to create a non-profit specific facility as part of the Main Street Lending Program,
  • Fund nine months of full employer-sponsored premium subsidies for laid-off or furloughed employees,
  • Appropriate $10 billion for small businesses,
  • Extend expanded unemployment benefit payments through January 31, 2021,
  • Authorize additional stimulus checks of $1,200 for individual filers making under $75,000/year ($2,400 for joint filers making under $150,000/year). Filers with dependents would be eligible for $1,200 per dependent with a cap of $3,600 for dependent payments,
  • Establish a special enrollment period for federal insurance marketplaces,
  • Require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue mandatory safety standards to address the risk of COVID-19 infection,
  • Provide hazard pay to essential workers during the public health emergency,
  • Provide up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness for borrowers,
  • Provide almost $1 trillion in federal aid to states and localities,
  • Appropriate $75 billion to help homeowners who are unable to make mortgage payments or pay property taxes and utilities.

The legislation does not include liability protections for businesses. A key requirement for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who called the Democrats' plan a "non-starter". Democrats, according to Politico, recognize that this legislation is unlikely to advance through the Republican held Senate and have used it as their opening salvo in negotiations with Republicans. Republicans, for their part, are working on their own version of a stimulus bill and have said they want to see results from the funding provided in the CARES Act in March 2020 before committing any additional federal money to COVID-19 relief.

A section-by-section summary of the HEROES Act is available on the House Appropriations Committee website.

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