By Meghan O'Brien
March 30 Update: Just before midnight on March 25, the Senate unanimously passed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2.2 trillion economic relief package—the largest in U.S. history—in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was then sent to the House of Representatives and on March 27, it was passed by a voice vote and sent to the White House where President Trump signed it into law (Public Law No: 116-136). Members of Congress have returned home to their states and districts amid the ongoing pandemic but continue to work on COVID-19-related and other legislative issues. Please visit: acatoday.org/COVID19 for up-to-date information on all that the ACA is doing for you during this time.
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The CARES Act contains several provisions of importance to the chiropractic profession and the ACA has prepared the an initial summary below. The legislation leaves significant details of implementation to the Administration and ACA will continue to monitor and update as more information becomes available:
Federal Student Loan Relief–The bill would direct the Secretary to suspend though Sept. 30, 2020, 24 payments (and interest) due for loans made under parts D and B of Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. During this period, all involuntary collection related to qualifying loans will also be suspended. The period of enrollment could also exclude “any semester (or the equivalent)” that is not completed due to a qualifying emergency. Additionally, suspended payments will not be reported as late or missed to consumer reporting agencies.
HPOG Funding – Funding for the Health Professions Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program will continue through Nov. 30, 2020, at current levels. HPOG was created in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to bolster workforce shortages in critical healthcare areas. HPOG provides education funding for low-income students training in high-demand, well-paying, healthcare fields, including chiropractic.
Small Business Administration (SBA) – The bill creates a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, an appointed position within the Department of the Treasury to oversee loans and other investments related to COVID-19, as well as a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and Congressional Oversight Commission. It also earmarks:
- $562 million for SBA to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to small businesses in declared emergency locations across the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, impacted by COVID-19. (Note: The Keeping American Workers Employed and Paid Act, signed into law on March 19, already authorized $350 billion in fully guaranteed SBA loans, some of which will be forgiven based on allowable expenses and borrower circumstance.)
- $10 billion will be made available for direct grants for businesses that are not eligible for the EIDL program, and
- $17 billion will be made available to allow SBA to cover principle and interest payments for six months on all SBA-backed business loans.
Employee Retention Credit – The bill would provide a refundable payroll tax credit for up to 50 percent of wages paid for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible employers must have fully or partially suspended regular operations due to a COVID-19 related shutdown order or show a 50 percent reduction of gross receipts as compared to the same quarter in the previous year.
Recovery Rebates – All U.S. residents earning up to $75,000 (if single) or $150,000 (if married), are eligible for a one-time $1,200 (single) or $2,400 (married) rebate and an additional $500 per dependent child.
Meghan O'Brien is ACA's associate director of federal government relations. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Look for more information and resources on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at www.acatoday.org/COVID19.