How does HR 6201 affect your business? Here’s a non-exhaustive list.
The Act amends the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide for employers to provide a ⅔ payment benefit after the first 10 days of unpaid leave due to a parent missing work due to a school or daycare closure. The maximum payment on this type of leave would be $200 per day and $10,000 in total. (Please note, under the Act, the Department of Labor may exempt businesses with less than 50 employees from complying with this if it would jeopardize the business. The Department of Labor has not made such an exemption yet, but they could in the coming days).
In addition, the Act created another sick leave structure under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave act. If an employer has fewer than 500 employees, the Federal Government requires you to pay sick leave to employees. The act essentially establishes, on an emergency basis, a federal paid-leave benefits program. This program will require qualifying employers to provide employees with 2 weeks of paid sick leave if employees find themselves unable to work because of being subjected to quarantine, experience COVID-19 symptoms, are caring for someone who is quarantined, or have children in schools that are now closed. The Act provides for a tax credit to qualifying employers to offset the cost of providing sick leave. It appears the amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act are intended to set up a floor payment after unpaid leave is used up and such leave can last for many weeks. Whereas, the Emergency Paid Sick leave is paid leave lasting a maximum of two weeks. It is not entirely clear yet how the two new sick leave provisions will interplay with each other.
Free Testing and Medicaid Increase
Through a variety of waivers, the Act provides that COVID-19 testing will be free without the need for copayments or deductibles. Additionally, the federal government will provide increased funding to Medicaid for states to utilize. Medicaid is a program designed to provide low or no cost medical care to low income or other individuals which qualify. Medicaid will see approximately a 6% increase in funding.
Increased Health Program Funding
The Act will increase funding in several health-related programs. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will be amended to include temporary coverage for diagnostic products. The Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service, and National Disaster Medical System will see an increase of federal funding.
The Act will provide nearly $1 billion in state grants to cover unemployment benefits to the states. In addition, the Act will provide additional funding to states which have higher unemployment who are already running short on unemployment benefits.
The Act will provide additional funding for nutrition assistance. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (commonly referred to as WIC) in addition to an emergency food assistance program will receive approximately $1 billion in additional funding. In addition, an estimated $100 million will be given to U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoas, Northern Mariana Islands) for nutrition assistance.
The purpose behind this article is to simply provide you a brief explanation of the benefits coming down the way as a result of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It is anybody’s guess as to how effective this Act will be in combating the results of a pandemic of this magnitude.
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