COVID-19 Updates – Information You Can Use

>COVID-19 Updates – Information You Can Use
COVID-19 Updates – Information You Can Use2020-05-04T10:52:08-06:00

How the Families First Act Helps You and Your Family with Coronavirus Related HEALTH CARE.

If you have Private Insurance, an ObamaCare Plan or Employer Provided Insurance

Mandatory Coverage for Coronavirus Testing and Treatment: The Act requires all private health plans to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the cost of a provider, urgent care center and emergency room visits in order to receive testing. Coverage must be provided at no cost to the consumer.

If you or a family member are covered under Medicaid or CHIP

Mandatory Coverage for Coronavirus Testing and Treatment. The Act requires Medicaid to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the cost of a provider visit in order to receive testing. Coverage must be provided at no cost to the beneficiary.

If you are uninsured it is important that you get tested at no cost.

Medicaid can help the uninsured with testing. The Act allows states to expand Medicaid coverage to the uninsured to cover just coronavirus testing. The Governor would have to affirmatively take this up. Key here, though, is it covers just testing, so is absolutely not a substitute for Medicaid expansion. Work continues to include treatment costs in future federal legislation.

If a state fails to expand Medicaid. The Act provides $1 billion in federal public health funding that would be available to reimburse providers for providing COVID-19 related services to the uninsured. This is for anyone who is uninsured.

Financial Help for States through Medicaid.

The Act provides states with additional Medicaid funding. Each state will receive an additional 6.2% increase in its federal Medicaid match rate. For a state like Mississippi, that means an additional $380 million to cover health care costs. States will be required to maintain current enrollment and the Divisions of Medicaid should end any redetermination efforts that cause children or parents to lose coverage.

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How the Families First Act Helps You and Your Family with Emergency PAID LEAVE.

To slow the spread of Coronavirus many people are staying home. If you are unable to work due to this emergency, the Families First Act does provide a paid leave program that will assist many families.

Who qualifies for the paid leave program:

Eligible workers will receive a benefit for a month (up to three months) in which they must take 14 or more days of leave from their work due to the qualifying COVID-19-related reasons. Eligible employees will be those who have worked for at least 30 days at an employer with less than 500 employees. There are also possible exceptions for health care employers. If you are an eligible employee, you can receive paid leave for the following reasons:

  1. You are diagnosed with COVID-19.
  2. You are quarantined (including self-imposed quarantine), at the instruction of a health care provider, employer, or government official, to prevent the spread of COVID19.
  3. You are caring for another person who has COVID-19 or who is under a quarantine related to COVID-19.
  4. You are caring for a child or other individual who is unable to care for themselves due to the COVID-19-related closing of their school, child care facility, or other care b program.

What benefits can you qualify for:

Benefit amount: Two-thirds of the individual’s average monthly earnings (based on the most recent year of wages or self-employment income for which records are readily available), up to a cap of $4,000.

Program and benefit period: The benefits will be available for leave that occurs from January 19, 2020 (the date of the first U.S. COVID-19 diagnosis) through one year after the bill’s enactment.

Retroactive benefits: Benefits can be paid retroactively, and applications can be filed up to 6 months after enactment.

Application: The Social Security Administration (SSA) will administer this program. Applications will be taken online, by phone, or by mail. Individuals will not visit SSA field offices to apply. Payments will in most cases be issued electronically.

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Families First Act Coronavirus Response Act and FOOD INSECURITY

The Families First Act does provide new assistance programs and makes it easier for states to directly assist families. Below is a summary of nutrition and SNAP related provisions, including actions states must pursue to make these programs available to families in need.

How the Families First Act expands SNAP Benefits to help you:

The Act provides emergency SNAP Benefits for families with children out of school due to the COVID-19 emergency. Families with a child that qualifies for free or reduced lunch may receive supplemental SNAP (food stamp) benefits. The USDA will set the dollar amount for the supplement, but it must reflect the value of the meals students fail to receive due to school closures. These new benefits are at no costs to the state.

These Provisions Require Action from States Leaders:

  1. The Governor must immediately direct the States Department of Human Services (MDHS) to seek a waiver to administer these benefits and assist families in need.
  2. The Governor can utilize the existing EBT system to quickly provide financial help to low-income families.
  3. Local school districts must also provide to MDHS all relevant student data necessary to administer these provisions.

The Act ensures SNAP availability to for Jobless Workers. Starting, April 1, the Act suspends work-requirements for SNAP benefits and also suspends time limits on SNAP benefits.

These Provisions Require Action from States Leaders:

  1. By April 1, these provisions will apply to the state, but the Governor should immediately submit a waiver requesting the suspension of SNAP work requirements.

The Act provides States with additional flexibility to provide increased SNAP benefits. Allows states to request waivers from USDA to provide temporary, emergency SNAP benefits to SNAP households (up to the maximum monthly benefit amount). These emergency benefits will be provided to assist with temporary food needs. States will also be allowed to waive administrative and reporting requirements. The Act anticipates states having staffing difficulties and office closures during this emergency period and provides needed flexibility.

These Provisions Require Action from States Leaders:

  1. The Governor should immediately direct the MDHS to take all necessary steps to acquire relevant employment data and prepare a waiver allowing for emergency benefits for families in need.

How the Families First Act Ensures students have access to healthy meals

The Act Provides Recourses Needed for States to Continue Student Lunch Programs. Even during school closures, the act allows for emergency waivers for the School Lunch Act by allowing states or other service providers to waive administrative or federal costs requirements under the National School Lunch Act to continue a school meal program. The National School Lunch Program provides per meal cash reimbursements to public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions that provide free and reduced-price lunches to eligible children.

These Provisions Require Action from States Leaders:

  1. States Department of Education should provide guidance to and solicit comments from all participating public-school districts on continuing school lunch programs during closures

The Act will make it easier for schools, agencies and organizations to provide meals to go. Provides for a Nation-wide waiver to adapt the National School Lunch Program in response to the COVID-19 emergency. The waiver will be crafted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and aims to reduce paperwork for states and help more schools, local government agencies, and community organizations quickly adapt and provide meals. The Act will also allow for states to seek waivers to allow child and adult care operators to provide food to go services.

These Provisions Require Action from States Leaders:

  1. States leaders must only elect to operate under the nationwide waiver. However, the Governor, MDHS and SBE should work with child and adult day care operators to develop a waiver and food delivery program to utilize the resources available under the Act.

We will keep you posted as things move along. Please take care of yourself and your family.

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IRS ANNOUNCEMENT

To help millions of people, the Treasury Department and the IRS launched a new web tool allowing quick registration for Economic Impact Payments for those who don’t normally file a tax return. The non-filer tool, developed in partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, provides a free and easy option designed for people who don’t have a return filing obligation, including those with too little income to file. The feature is available only on IRS.gov, and users should look for Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here to take them directly to the tool.

“People who don’t have a return filing obligation can use this tool to give us basic information so they can receive their Economic Impact Payments as soon as possible,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The IRS and Free File Alliance have been working around the clock to deliver this new tool to help people.”

Economic Impact Payments will be distributed automatically to most people starting next week. Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for 2019 or 2018 will receive the payments automatically. Automatic payments will also go in the near future to those receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits.

For more information and additional updates, visit IRS.gov/coronavirus.

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