Families First Coronavirus Response Act Signed This Week
on March 20, 2020
The Senate has passed (by a vote of 90-8), and President Trump has signed, the second COVID-19 relief package, known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201). A full summary of the bill can be found here or the full bill here. This bill addresses several factors related to the COVID-19 outbreak, but for the healthcare/DMEPOS industry, the bill contains the following features that we believe are relevant to most of us:
- Establishes a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak (4 qualifying situations: diagnosed, quarantined, caring for diagnosed, or caring for a child due to school/daycare closure),
- Expands unemployment benefits and provide grants to states for processing and paying claims,
- Requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave to employees (the benefits paid are not subject to federal income taxes),
- Establishes requirements for providing coronavirus diagnostic testing at no cost to consumers,
- Treats personal respiratory protective devices as covered countermeasures that are eligible for certain liability protections,
- Temporarily increases the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) that states receive from the federal government for their respective Medicaid programs, and
- Requires private health plans, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid plans to cover testing for COVID-19 at no cost to the consumer.
The supplemental appropriations provided by the bill are designated as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.
The bill also requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard that requires certain employers to develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect health care workers.
Here is an overview of how FFCRA works.