The long fight for COVID-19 recovery is still undergoing and will likely go one for the months or years to come. Governments across the world are trying their best to support medical frontliners through sound policymaking and budget appropriations.
Last April of 2020, the United States federal government signed a $2 trillion relief act known as The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said that the bill “includes important provisions to mitigate the sharp economic decline already unfolding” as well as responding to the public health crisis.
The act itself is over 300 pages long, divided into Titles with detailed policies on responding to the pandemic. Here’s a summary of parts or CARES Act and how it will affect you as a medical worker during COVID 19.
The first Title of CARES Act encompasses the support granted by the government for employees and allotting critical funding to keep small businesses running. If you and/or your colleagues run a private practice, this section might be helpful for you.
One of the highlights of this Title is the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program. A $349 billion loan program was initiated to keep employees on payroll and give employers a loan to alleviate the costs. This loan is available to small businesses that have less than 500 employees and/or under the size standards of U.S. Small Business Administration.
Loans have a maturity rate of 2 years with an interest rate of 1%. No collateral or personal guarantees are required and there’s no need to make loan payments until either your application of forgiveness is processed of the 10 months after the covered period has lapsed.
It’s mandated that at least 60% of the Paycheck Protection Program loan shall be used to fund payroll and the costs of employee benefits. The remaining can be used on payments and utilities.
If the guidelines set were effectively followed, you’ll be able to have a 100% loan forgiveness.
The second Title of CARES Act includes amended pandemic unemployment assistance, recovery rebates, and more. As a medical worker, benefits are provided for you under this Title in such instances that you might be unable to work because of COVID-19.
Under the second Title of CARES Acts, people with limited work history, self-employed people, and independent contractors are now qualified for unemployment benefits. In addition to that, you are entitled to unemployment benefits if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, providing care for someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19, required to self-quarantine, or lost/quit their job because of COVID-19.
Unemployment benefits were also increased with an additional $600 per week for up to four months. If your benefits run out and you’re still unemployed, you can apply for another additional 13 weeks of benefits to help you get back on your feet.
However, if your medical institution is providing you with paid leave benefits (sick leave, for example), then you’re not qualified for unemployment.
Short-term compensation programs were also offered by some states. The way this work is that the state would reduce your work hours and pay and in turn, you would be able to offset the reduced pay with unemployment benefits. Select hospitals under these states who are working at half-capacity are using this method for the remaining half of their employees until they’re to report back to duty.
When it comes to relief checks, recovery rebates are available for qualified individuals. If your income is under $75,000, you’re eligible for a $1,200 check. If you have children under the age of 17, then you’re eligible for an additional $500 per child.
Perhaps one of the most important Titles in this act is the third Title which includes provisions that review supply issues on medical equipment, drug shortages, and as well as prioritizing drug application reviews.
When it comes to access to coverage, testing for COVID-19 should be 100% covered by private insurance plans without any additional costs to their patients. On the other hand, those who are uninsured can get the COVID-19 test for free depending on the state’s Medicaid program.
Vaccination for COVID-19 will be free for the first 15 days upon its creation and widespread distribution across all states.
To be able to equip healthcare institutions so that everyone gets the help that they need, additional funding was provided for healthcare centers. As a way to transition to the new normal, telehealth technologies were also given grants. Liabilities were also limited for any volunteer healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When it comes to your paid leave and emergency sick leave, the Benefits from the Family and Medical Leave Act of FMLA are also expanded if you’re not able to work because of COVID-19.
If you’re sick, the maximum amount that your employer is required to pay is $511 per day. If you’re taking care of a quarantined individual or child out of work, your employer is required to pay you a maximum of $200 per day.
In line with this, it’s important to review your benefits with your employer or contractor such as hazard pays, adjusted paid leave, and more.
While the first Titles focused on providing COVID-19 relief funds for individuals and small businesses, this Title focuses on supporting medium to large businesses. Under this Title, the federal government provides $500 billion as emergency relief to tribes, municipalities, businesses, and states.
Under this Title, the federal government has allotted $150 billion Coronavirus relief funds that shall be given to states, territories, and tribes. This fund will be used to pay for expenses related to COVID-19 and will be allocated based on population. The minimum amount of $1.25 billion will be given to the stats with the smallest population.