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COVID-19 Policy Updates

Easterseals Updates Regarding the Coronavirus: May 26, 2020

This week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The legislation, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, would make handful of changes to help small businesses weather the current crisis. Specifically, the legislation would do the following: 

The legislation is expected to be voted on through the new proxy voting mechanism on Thursday. If it passes, the question becomes how quickly it would move in the Senate. We expect there will be ongoing discussions about enhancements to PPP, which could lead to further changes. We are closely monitoring the status of this legislation and will keep you posted should there be any developments. Additionally, we will be sending an Action Alert tomorrow afternoon with talking points on this legislation for affiliates to reach out to their legislators.

For Your Information

The Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act is Signed into Law.

The CARES Act, which totals $2 trillion in support, is the largest stimulus package in American history. Below is an updated description of provisions in the bill that are important to Easterseals and its affiliates. We will be providing more in-depth analysis once the bill has been signed into law.

Easterseals National will continue to advocate that for individuals who make contributions to nonprofits due to COVID-19 should be able to deduct from their 2019 tax returns.

Education: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
The CARES Act provides more than $30 billion in emergency education funding for colleges, universities, states and local school districts.

Specifically, the legislation provides:

With regard to IDEA, the legislation does not address waiver authority at this time. However, it does require the Secretary of Education to submit recommendations regarding IDEA waivers, given the civil rights entitlements of the law.

The US DOE have released information meant to guide school districts and teachers on availability of services and supports to students with disabilities. In addition to the Q&A document released last week, the Department released new information which clarifies that federal law should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning to all students, including those with disabilities.

Veterans Affairs Update
We want to also provide an update on COVID-19 and its effects on Veterans Affairs (VA) and other services provided to veterans and their families. The White House has announced that it will seek approximately $25 billion in new funding for the Pentagon and the VA in recent days. $16 of the $25 billion would go to the VA to boost funding for COVID-19 testing and protective equipment, and VA technology systems. The funding would also pay for an estimated three months of community care treatment costs outside of the VA. This funding request is on top of the funding included in H.R. 6201, which was signed into law yesterday evening.

If you are serving any veterans who may be experiencing cold or flu symptoms, please direct them to CALL before visiting their local VA agency. The VA will then implement telehealth services through its own health care platform. Veterans are also invited to visit PATRIOTlink, which is an online resource database that provides information on free programs specifically tailored to the military/veteran community.

On Medicare and Medicaid Services
This morning, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted an update to their FAQ section related to state Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and how these agencies are responding to COVID-19.

On Social Security
The Social Security Administration is continuing to pay benefits to Americans. While their offices are closed, individuals with questions related to Social Security and COVID-19 can visit the SSA website. The website provides information on continuing services, how to contact SSA, and other information.

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