On the heels of the passage of HR 6201, the U.S. Senate has advanced another piece of legislation to help those most impacted by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. The bill includes the following:
Enhanced Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, including a 13-week extension of benefits and four months of an additional $600 per week. The bill also includes provisions to include workers traditionally ineligible for UI, such as independent contractors and workers in the gig economy (like Uber and Lyft drivers). The inclusion of these workers in Kentucky was announced by Gov. Beshear on March 25.
Payments directly to individuals and families of $1,200 for each adult making less than $75,000 per year ($150,000 per couple). These payments would diminish for individuals and couples making up to $99,000 or $198,000 respectively. Families receiving these payments would also receive $500 per child. Altogether, Kentuckians who file income taxes will receive over $4 billion in one-time “recovery rebates.”
Loans for small businesses that retain employees during this emergency period, currently up to June 30, 2020.
Funding for hospitals to help cover expenses related to delaying elective procedures and other initiatives so they could focus on responding to COVID-19. It also includes an increase in Medicare payments to hospitals. It is not yet clear how this would impact Kentucky hospitals.
Loans for distressed companies in industries hit particularly hard by restrictions required during the COVID-19 pandemic, including hotels and airlines. This funding includes strict guidelines on what the funds can and cannot be used for, transparency, and strong oversight. Oversight protections include an independent Inspector General and a Congressional board to oversee the funds.
A Coronavirus Relief Fund for state and local governments that will distribute an estimated $1.732 billion to Kentucky.
Safety-net programs will also receive a boost, including an estimated $65 million in child care funding along with $480 million in Medicaid savings from an enhanced federal match included in The Families First Coronavirus Act that recently passed.
When it comes to the impact of these provisions on Kentuckians, it’s easier to see the impacts of some provisions over others. But overall, this bill is another important step to make sure Kentuckians are kept physically, mentally, and financially healthy while we shelter in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. KVH will continue to monitor this important legislation that is expected to be passed by the House by a wide bipartisan majority.