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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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04/17/2020

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  • President Trump released new guidelines outlining the White House’s plan for reopening the country from its current state of lockdown.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) has distributed all $350 billion it received from Congress in the CARES Act for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The SBA is not accepting new PPP loan applications until Congress appropriates additional money for the program. The SBA is also unable to process new applications for EIDL loans for the same reason.
    • Congress and the White House are continuing to negotiate new coronavirus relief legislation. House and Senate Republicans prefer to pass a stand-alone bill that provides upwards of $250 billion to the SBA for the PPP.
    • Democrats want a larger bill that provides funding for many other programs in addition to the SBA including funding for the healthcare system and funding for state and local governments.
    • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is also involved in the negotiations on behalf of the Administration.
    • Congress is not scheduled to reconvene in Washington, D.C. until May 4th. Congress will need to agree on a bill that can pass both Chambers by unanimous consent if it realistically wants to pass a bill before that date.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted the online attestation form for that providers who received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund must complete to acknowledge receiving the payment and attest that they agree to the terms of conditions. Providers must complete the attestation within 30 days of receiving the payment. Providers who disagree with the terms can return the funding they received to CMS. Instructions for returning the funding are available through the online attestation form. Not returning the payment within 30 days of receipt will be viewed as acceptance of the Terms and Conditions.
    • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma told reporters on a conference call that CMS would make a second round of payments this week. Those payments will supposedly target “hot spots” and providers whose needs were not fully addressed in the first round.
    • The first round of distributions, totaling $30 billion, was based on Medicare fee-for-service payments. Some provider-types see a relatively low volume of Medicare patients and therefore could have received less funding than other provider-types. CMS has an additional $70 billion available from the funding it received in the CARES Act to help the healthcare system.
    • The first round of distributions was sent on Friday morning last week. This could mean the new round of distributions Administrator Verma is referencing could be distributed tomorrow morning.
  • President Trump announced a new bipartisan advisory panel of U.S. Senators and Representatives to help advise him on how to reopen the U.S. economy.
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published its cost estimate for the CARES Act. The CBO believes the CARES Act will cost the federal government $1.8 trillion. Although the bill provides financial assistance totaling more than $2 trillion, the projected cost is less than that because some of that assistance is in the form of loan guarantees, which are not estimated to have a net effect on the federal budget. 
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is encouraging people who recovered from COVID-19 to donate their blood plasma to help researchers develop blood-related therapies.
  • Yesterday’s daily update referenced a U.S. Census Bureau report on retail spending. The update included a faulty link to the report. Here is a link to that report.
  • CMS has approved 52 COVID- related emergency waivers, 31 state amendments, 11 COVID-related Medicaid Disaster Amendments and one CHIP COVID-related Disaster Amendment in record time.