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House Passes Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

On the heels of a unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives swiftly approved a historic $2 trillion stimulus measure today, aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic and bolstering the nation’s economy. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.

While the size and scale of this legislation is unprecedented in American history, there is wide acknowledgement that more will need to be done in the coming months. NAADAC is working closely with lawmakers, the Federal Administration, and the federal agencies to ensure that those in need can access the valuable services you deliver every day.

In this time of great uncertainty, we are also advocating for measures that help protect your livelihood and mitigate the impact of this devastating pandemic.

The stimulus package includes a number of relevant provisions for addiction professionals and their clients, including the following:

SAMHSA Emergency Response Grants

The package includes $100 million in flexible funding to address mental health and substance use disorders, and to provide resources and support to youth and the homeless during the pandemic.

  • Section 3221. Confidentiality and disclosure of records relating to substance use disorder.

    Allows for additional care coordination by aligning the 42 CFR Part 2 regulations, which govern the confidentiality and sharing of substance use disorder treatment records, with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), with initial patient consent.
     
  • Section 3224. Guidance on protected health information.

    Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue guidance on what is allowed to be shared of patient records during the public health emergency related to COVID-19.
     
  • Section 3703. Expanding Medicare Telehealth Flexibilities

    Enables beneficiaries to access telehealth, including in their home, from a broader range of providers, in hopes of reducing COVID-19 exposure.
     
  • Section 3814. Extension and Expansion of Community Mental Health Services Demonstration

    Extends the Medicaid Community Mental Health Services demonstration that provides coordinated care to patients with mental health and substance use disorders through November 30, 2020. It would also expand the demonstration to two additional states.
     
  • Section 3823. Extension of Demonstration Projects to Address Health Professions Workforce Needs

    Extends the Health Professions Opportunity Grants (HPOG) program through November 30, 2020 at current funding levels. This program provides funding to help low-income individuals obtain education and training in high-demand, well-paid, health care jobs.
     
  • Section 5001. Coronavirus Relief Fund

    Provides $150 billion to States, Territories, and Tribal governments to use for expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19 in the face of revenue declines, allocated by population proportions and with a minimum of $1.25 billion for states with relatively small populations.

Small Business Relief

The CARES Act expands existing eligibility requirements and provides greater funding opportunities for businesses seeking relief from the federal government under two Small Business Administration Loan programs. Under the SBA 7(a) program, businesses are eligible to borrow up to $10 million with significant loan forgiveness if the funds are used for payroll, lease payments and other general expenses. Under the disaster assistance program, businesses are eligible to borrow up to $2 million. This chart compares the salient aspects of both the SBA 7(a) loan program and the disaster assistance program.

The CARES Act builds on provisions passed in the first two COVID-19 response measures, including the following items aimed at providing relief to small businesses:

  • Paid Sick Leave Tax Credit for Employers

    The Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCA”) generally requires most employers with under 500 employees to provide up to 10 business days of paid sick leave. The law provides qualifying employers a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 100% of the total wages paid on these additional sick days. These credits will generally apply to the employer’s portion of its Social Security taxes. The credit is limited to $511 per day ($5,110 total) if taking time off to care for themselves or $200 per day ($2,000 total) to care for (1) an individual who’s quarantined; (2) showing symptoms of COVID-19; or (3) a minor child whose school is closed.
     
  • Paid Sick Leave Tax Credit for the Self-Employed

    The FFCA also provides for a similar credit to self-employed taxpayers as it provides qualifying employers, except the credits are taken against the taxpayer’s income tax and are refundable to the extent they exceed the taxpayer’s tax liability.
     
  • Family Leave Tax Credit for Employers  

    The FFCA generally requires most employers with under 500 employees to provide public health emergency leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act when an employee cannot work because he or she must care for a minor whose school or care provider is closed or unavailable due to a coronavirus emergency as declared by a Federal, State, or local authority. The FFCA requires employers to provide at least two-third of the employee’s usual pay up to $200 per day, or a total of $10,000. Employers receive a refundable credit that is equal to qualified family leave amount to be used against its share of payroll taxes for each employee.
     
  • Family Leave Tax Credit for the Self-Employed 

    A similar family leave credit is also available for self-employed taxpayers. The refundable credit is used to offset the taxpayer’s income tax liability and is equal to 100% of the qualified leave amount.
     
  • Tax Filing Date Extension 

    All businesses have until July 15, 2020, to file their tax returns and make any necessary payments without interest or penalties.

Please continue to monitor our site for updates and resources on this critical topic.