Donate

COVID-19 upended the lives of virtually everyone over the course of the last month – and it appears likely that nationwide disruptions to work, school, healthcare, and everyday life will continue for some time longer. Amidst this upheaval, HFA wants to reassure you that we will continue to serve and support you. We are working to provide reliable and timely information about coronavirus and its impact on the bleeding disorders community via HFA’s frequently-updated COVID-19 hub. Here you will find medical statements and updates from federal agencies and industry partners; information about the supply of bleeding disorders medications; information about insurance coverage options for people who may have lost coverage due to job loss or reduction in hours; and much more. The hub can also connect you with sites linking you to food and nutrition programs, unemployment benefits, parenting resources, and HFA’s patient assistance portal.

We also want you to stay safe and healthy. Please follow the guidelines of your local public health authorities; practice social distancing; and wash your hands! And please join HFA in extending our gratitude to the health care workers, first responders, grocery store staff, sanitation workers, postal and delivery service personnel, and everyone else helping out in a myriad of capacities.  Let’s all pull together to end this pandemic.

Federal legislation

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law an unprecedented, bipartisan $2.2 trillion economic stabilization and relief package addressing the COVID-19 emergency (H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act). Provisions in the CARES Act include:

  • Expansion of unemployment insurance (people who are unemployed would get an extra $600 per week for up to four months, on top of state unemployment benefits, to make up for 100% of lost wages);
  • Required coverage for qualifying coronavirus preventive services;
  • Direct payments to individuals and families that are scaled based on income (up to $1,200 per individual; $2,400 per couple; and $500 per child);
  • Postponement of the federal tax filing date until July 15, 2020;
  • $150 billion in funds for health care providers and front-line workers; and
  • Extension of several health-related programs (previously set to expire on May 22, they will now expire on Nov. 30).

The CARES Act also contains provisions to help small and large businesses deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic; these provisions include targeted assistance to nonprofits.

Most observers expect that Congress will consider and pass additional relief bills in the coming weeks and months.

Earlier federal legislation (H.R. 6021, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act) was signed into law on March 18. This law provides a 6.2% boost in federal funding for state Medicaid programs. It also requires (some) employers to provide employees with paid sick leave; expands food assistance for vulnerable children and families; provides federal funding to support state unemployment insurance programs; and requires all health plans (public and private) to cover coronavirus testing, with no cost-sharing for patients. (Note that the law eliminates cost-sharing for coronavirus testing, only, not for treatment of COVID-19.)

An even earlier COVID-19 bill (H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Act) was signed into law on March 5, 2020. This measure provides $8.3 billion in emergency supplemental funding for federal, state, and local agencies responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

White House and federal agency actions

On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared that the COVID-19 outbreak constitutes a national emergency. This declaration gives the federal government additional tools to respond to the outbreak.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance telling state Medicaid programs that they cannot kick people off Medicaid, reduce people’s benefits, impose work requirements, or charge higher premiums if the states want to receive the additional federal funding provided by H.R. 6021.

CMS has also granted applications (“1135 waivers”) from 34 states (as of March 29) to modify their Medicaid requirements in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Among other things, the 1135 waivers allow states to eliminate some prior authorization requirements and provider enrollment requirements, suspend certain nursing home pre-admission reviews, and/or permit reimbursement to providers for care delivered in alternative settings.

CMS announced guidance allowing Medicare plans to remove barriers to care, e.g.: waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests, removing prior authorization requirements, expanding access to telehealth services, etc.

On March 29, President Trump extended social distancing guidance through the end of April.

State actions

All 50 states and the U.S. territories have declared states of emergency and/or public health emergencies.

In response to COVID-19, most state legislatures have suspended their legislative sessions, or ended them early (if their legislatures were still sitting).

One dozen states have opened up special enrollment periods in their ACA marketplaces, allowing families to sign up for health insurance. (As a reminder, individuals who have lost health insurance because of a job loss, move out of state, etc., are entitled to a special enrollment period by virtue of that change in life circumstances, in all 50 states.)

WHAT DO THESE POLICY DEVELOPMENTS MEAN FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES, INCLUDING MEMBERS OF THE BLEEDING DISORDERS COMMUNITY?

  • Depending on your income level, you may receive an automatic direct cash payment from the federal government of up to $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per couple, and $500 per child under the age of 17.[1] The government expects to begin sending out payments in April.
  • If you’ve lost a job or had hours reduced because of the coronavirus outbreak, you can file a claim for unemployment benefits.
    • Under the recently-enacted CARES Act, the federal government will kick in up to $600/week over and in addition to the unemployment benefits mandated by your state, through July 31.
    • Allows states to continue unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks (over and above the 26 weeks typically provided).
    • Under a new program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, federal unemployment benefits extend to self-employed, contract, and freelance workers (people not normally protected by unemployment programs).
  • You may be eligible to sign up for Medicaid coverage or for a new Marketplace plan if you have lost health insurance due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • You may suspend your monthly payment on federal student loans through September 30, 2020, without accruing interest. (Note that this provision does not affect private student loans.)
  • You may delay your federal tax filing until July 15, 2020 – but filing your 2019 federal tax return earlier may expedite your direct cash payment (paragraph (a), above), since the government will use the direct deposit information on your 2019 return to send the cash payment to your bank account. Find more information here.
  • If you work for a covered employer and you are unable to work due to COVID-related illness or quarantine, you may be eligible for up to two weeks of paid sick leave at your regular rate of pay.
  • If you work for a covered employer and you are unable to work because you are caring for someone who is quarantined due to COVID-19, or caring for a child whose school or daycare is unavailable due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for up to two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds your regular rate of pay. (You may also be eligible for an extended period of paid family and medical leave.)
  • The CARES Act temporarily halts evictions for some people who live in rented homes, and provides federal funding for some rental assistance. Some states, counties, and/or cities have also acted to suspend renter evictions. If you are experiencing difficulty in paying your rent due to the COVID-19 emergency, you are encouraged to reach out to your landlord to discuss your circumstances.
  • The CARES Act suspends time limits on federal food assistance (“SNAP”) for unemployed childless adults between the ages of 18 and 49, and allows states to suspend work requirements imposed on SNAP beneficiaries.

For additional coverage options for those without job-based coverage, download this handout:

[1] Payments are reduced for singles who earn $75,000 and up in adjusted gross income/$150,000 for couples; payments are completely phased out for singles earning $99,000 and up/$198,000 for couples.

Facebook Comments


Sign up for E-mails, Dateline Magazine, and other ways to stay connected.