Second Federal Supplemental for COVID-19

On March 18, President Trump signed into law the second supplemental appropriations package to deal with the current COVID-19 outbreak. This legislation, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), focuses on paid leave, tax credits, expanded unemployment and nutrition assistance, and free coronavirus testing. This follows the first supplemental appropriations package, which included $8.3 billion—primarily for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—to respond to the health crisis as well as President Trump’s national emergency declaration.  Full details on the second package follow. 

SECOND SUPPLEMENENTAL PROVISIONS

Emergency Paid Leave

The law provides employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers—who have been on the job for 30 days—with the right to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The first two weeks would be fully paid and the rest would be no less than two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay. This can be used to cover a required quarantine, to care for an at-risk family member, or to care for a child in the event of a school or daycare closure.

The bill also contains a requirement that requires employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers to provide employees two weeks of paid sick leave, paid at the employee’s regular rate. Full-time employees are entitled to two weeks and part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours they work in a typical two-week period.  This will expire at the end of 2020.

Unemployment Insurance

The law provides $1 billion to be used in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance benefits. $500 million can be used to provide immediate additional funding for all states and the additional $500 million will be reserved for emergency grants to states that experience at least a 10 percent increase in unemployment.

Nutrition Programs

The legislation provides $1 billion for nutrition programs and allows Agriculture Department food programs more latitude to ensure meals are provided. For example, work and work training requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits have been waived. SNAP can also provide extra benefits in areas where school closures affect the National School Lunch Program and meals will be allowed to be taken to go.

COVID-19 Testing

The law provides $1 billion to reimburse the costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing and services provided to individuals without health insurance. It also requires private health plans to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing without cost-sharing, waive cost-sharing under Medicare Part B to cover beneficiary cost-sharing for provider visits, and waive cost-sharing for testing and treatment under Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).