Editor’s note: This press release from Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal shows the House Democrats legislative proposal regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Committee provisions provide support for hospitals, patients, workers, and small businesses
[Congressman Richard E. Neal | March 23, 2020 | House Committee on Ways & Means]
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Democrats unveiled the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act, the latest piece of sweeping legislation responding to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The Ways and Means Committee wrote key provisions in the package that will address some of our nation’s most immediate challenges, including hospitals’ equipment shortages and workers’ and families’ sudden lack of income.
“This emergency is upending workers’ lives, decimating businesses, and dramatically straining our health care system,” said Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA). “With our contributions to this latest bill, the Ways and Means Committee is providing critical support where it’s needed most. Committee provisions quickly put money directly in Americans’ pockets, further expand unemployment compensation, and help hospitals safely treat the influx of coronavirus patients. Congress will develop additional legislation as this crisis continues to evolve, but House Democrats’ latest proposal provides the immediate relief our nation needs right now.
“As I’ve said all along, this crisis is first and foremost a public health emergency. If we do not give hospitals and frontline health care workers the resources and support they need to keep up with the demands of treating sick Americans, none of our other actions matter.”
Ways and Means Committee provisions in the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act include:
Support for patients and the strained U.S. health care system:
- The elimination of cost sharing for COVID-19 treatment in Medicare and private insurance to ensure these services do not bankrupt seniors and families.
- A payroll tax credit to allow hospitals and other providers afford to quickly purchase additional equipment to care for sick patients.
- A payroll tax credit that helps hospitals afford to provide care for all COVID-19 patients, including those who are uninsured or underinsured.
- Dedicated funding to states to provide emergency childcare for health care and other essential workers, or to reimburse the workers directly for childcare costs that they incur during the crisis.
- The establishment of a one-time, special Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace enrollment period to allow families who are uninsured to get health coverage during the crisis.
- Enhanced tax credits available to help Americans purchase health insurance and expanded eligibility for these tax credits to meet the needs of Americans during this time of economic and health uncertainty.
- Increased Medicare outlier payments for any costs over the normal Medicare payment amount for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
Assistance for workers and businesses:
- Economic assistance payments: $1,500 of immediate assistance per individual, up to $7,500 for a family of five. This benefit would be available to anyone with an individual taxpayer identification number, as well as to our nation’s retirees and unemployed individuals.
- The expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children for the first time in 25 years.
- An increase in, and expansion of, the Child Tax Credit, and a change to make it fully refundable for families who currently make too little to receive the full credit.
- A fully refundable employer payroll tax credit tied to the payment of employee wages during the crisis to encourage employee retention.
The expansion and enhancement of unemployment compensation:
- The creation of a temporary Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) of $600 a week for any worker affected by COVID-19 and eligible for state or federal unemployment compensation (UC) benefits. The FPUC, combined with the underlying state unemployment benefit, would replace 100 percent of wages for the average U.S. worker.
- The expansion of eligibility for unemployment compensation to self-employed workers, individuals who had contracts for work that were cancelled due to the virus, and new entrants to the job market, such as recent college graduates who otherwise wouldn’t qualify.
An FAQ on proposed economic assistance payments is available HERE.
An FAQ on proposed unemployment compensation changes is available HERE.
A section-by-section summary of the legislation is available HERE.