Radford News Journal

Griffith explains, supports coronavirus legislation benefits

Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) issued a statement Thursday in support of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third legislative package responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our country faces an extraordinary crisis with far-reaching impacts on American life,” said Griffith in a written statement. “This situation calls for urgency and a broad-based response.”

“While I do not agree with everything in the [CARES Act], I believe that it will deliver on its most important goals – helping Americans out of work due to the coronavirus, offering support to small businesses, and providing federal health agencies, states, and local governments with the funding and equipment they need as they continue to fight this pandemic.”

Provisions of the CARES Act:

Economic support for Americans

American citizens with valid Social Security numbers (thus including Social Security and SSI recipients) are eligible for direct cash assistance. Individuals with income at or below $75,000 will receive $1,200; couples with incomes at or below $150,000 will receive $2,400. If you have children, you will receive an additional $500 per child.

The amount received decreases by $5 for each $100 earned above income limits, phasing out completely at incomes of $99,000 or higher for individuals and $198,000 or higher for married couples.

Eligibility is determined by 2018 and 2019 tax returns or from Social Security Administration information for Social Security beneficiaries.

Unemployment benefits are temporarily increased by adding $600 per week through July and an additional thirteen weeks of benefits beyond what states typically allow. Self-employed workers and independent contractors are now eligible.

Aid to employers and small businesses

Employers that face closure (in Virginia, such as restaurants, barbershops, etc.) or suffer economic hardship due to coronavirus but continue to pay furloughed workers may be eligible for a 50 percent credit on up to $10,000 of wages paid to those employees.

Employers are able to delay paying their 2020 payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022 to allow for extra cash flow.

A paycheck protection program is set up to support small businesses that maintain their payroll. It would provide eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through federally-guaranteed loans, and the portions of the loans used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven for small employers that maintain payroll.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is required to pay all principal, interest, and fees on existing SBA loan products for six months.

More tools to fight the coronavirus

Accelerated Medicare payments for providers help hospitals maintain their workforces, buy supplies, and remain open.

A 20 percent add on payment is provided by Medicare for inpatient treatment at hospitals.

Hospitals and providers receive $100 billion to cover expenses or lost revenue related to the coronavirus.

$16 billion will support the Strategic National Stockpile in procuring personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other medical supplies.

The Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund receives $11 billion for manufacturing, producing, and purchasing vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other medical or preparedness needs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention receive $4.3 billion.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services receive $200 million for priorities including assisting nursing homes with infection control.

The Federal Communications Commission receives $200 million for telemedicine services and devices.

Telemedicine is further encouraged through the temporary waiving of certain requirements and the reauthorization of Health Resources and Services Administration grants to promote it.

The Food and Drug Administration receives $80 million for development of vaccines, advanced manufacturing of medical products, and monitoring medical supply chains.

Community Health Centers receive $1.32 billion in supplemental funding to fight the coronavirus.

Other provisions

To prevent a complete collapse in air travel, passenger airlines are eligible for $25 billion in loan authority and $25 billion in grants to maintain operations, employee payroll, and contracts. Cargo air carriers are eligible for $4 billion in loan authority and $4 billion in grants. $10 billion is provided for grants to airports through the Airport Improvement Program.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives do not receive salary increases. $25 million in funding is made available until September 30, 2021 for House operations, primarily laptop computers, etc., so offices can respond remotely.

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