Read this week’s federal update for the latest on: 

  • Congress Considers Next Stimulus Package
  • Small Business Administration Issues Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program
  • ACF Issues Memorandum Regarding Flexibility for Grantees
  • Children’s Bureau Letter on Judicial Hearings
  • Technology Options from Children’s Bureau
  • Telehealth and Telemedicine Guidelines for Medicare and Medicaid
  • New CDC Guidance for Child Care Programs that are Open
  • ACF Releases New TANF Guidance

Congress Considers Next Stimulus Package

Congress plans to begin work on another stimulus bill in the coming weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would like to move forward on a major infrastructure package that includes broadband expansion and other priorities. Initial reports have mentioned several focus areas including state solvency, infrastructure investments, additional SNAP benefits, more funding for hospitals, hazard pay, state and local tax (SALT) cap, and more. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he is not rushing into work on the next bill and first wants to see the effect of the current bill. Congress returns to Washington D.C. on April 20. They currently stand in recess.

The Alliance is now beginning advocacy on the next legislative package on behalf of community based human service organizations and the communities they serve. The Alliance needs your input to determine how to best advocate for our members during the next round of legislation. Please complete this short survey by end of day, April 7. It only takes 5 minutes and will help guide our next advocacy work.

Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Expand Nonprofit Financial Relief

Congressman Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) introduced a bill, H.R. 6408, that would give financial relief to public charities. The bill already has eight cosponsors. The “Save the Organizations that Support America Act” provides nonprofit organizations on the front-lines of the coronavirus response with critical economic support. This $60 billion relief package would increase direct financial assistance to nonprofits of all sizes, eliminate the 500 employee cap for 501(c)(3) organizations seeking Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, and would improve the above-the-line universal charitable deduction by eliminating the cap and allowing taxpayers to claim deductions for 2019, 2020, and future taxes. The Alliance was happy to officially endorse this legislation and is working with the Moulton office to get it enacted.

Small Business Administration Issues Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program

On April 2, the Small Business Administration released new guidance on the Paycheck Protection Loan Program. Additional information is also available on the Small Business Administration website . A few quick takeaways on this, thanks to our friends at the National Council of Nonprofits:

Interest Rate: Contrary to earlier announcements from SBA, the interest rate for PPP loans has now been set at 1.0 percent, up from the 0.5 percent reported earlier this week.

Application: Borrowers must complete the SBA Form 2483 (Paycheck Protection Program Application Form) and provide payroll documentation.

Payroll Costs Defined: Since this is important, we’ll quote what SBA says in its entirety: “Payroll costs consist of compensation to employees (whose principal place of residence is the United States) in the form of salary, wages, commissions, or similar compensation; cash tips or the equivalent (based on employer records of past tips or, in the absence of such records, a reasonable, good-faith employer estimate of such tips); payment for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payment for the provision of employee benefits consisting of group health care coverage, including insurance premiums, and retirement; payment of state and local taxes assessed on compensation of employees; and for an independent contractor or sole proprietor, wage, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment or similar compensation.”

  • Exclusions from payroll costs include compensation for employee based outside the U.S,, compensation in excess of $100,000 (prorated), federal payroll taxes, qualified paid leave under the Families First Act.

Calculating Payroll Costs: The rule lays out a five-step process for calculating payroll costs for purposes of PPP loans:

  • Aggregate payroll costs (see above) for last 12-months;
  • Subtract pay from each employee in excess of $100,000;
  • Divide step 2 total by 12 months to get the monthly average; 
  • Multiply step 3 total by 2.5; and then
  • Add any outstanding amount from an EIDL loan received between 1/31/2020 and 4/3/2020, “less the amount of any ‘advance’ under an EIDL COVID-19 loan (because it doesn’t have to be repaid).”

Lender Scrutiny should be minimal. The interim final rule states: “The lender does not need to conduct any verification if the borrower submits documentation supporting its request for loan forgiveness and attests that it has accurately verified the payments for eligible costs. The Administrator will hold harmless any lender that relies on such borrower documents and attestation from a borrower.”

75%-25% Rule for Forgiveness: Another decision made official in the new rule is that SBA will limit how much of a loan can be forgiven based on how the borrower spends the money. SBA states that loan forgiveness requires that at least 75% of the loan amount be spent on payroll and no more than 25% on other eligible expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities). This restriction isn’t in the statute but SBA says it is imposing the restriction to promote employment.

We will continue to monitor the implementation of this program and share more information.

ACF Issues Memorandum Regarding Flexibility for Grantees

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released an information memorandum on March 30, dealing with grant flexibilities in conducting human services activities related to or affected by COVID-19. This provides short-term relief for administrative, financial management, and audit requirements for ACF applicants and grantees.

Source: Children’s Defense Fund

Children’s Bureau Letter on Judicial Hearings

The Children’s Bureau released a letter on March 27, addressing legal and court-related issues during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The letter offers guidance to courts, Court Improvement Programs (CIPs), and administrative offices about where courts have flexibility about what services are required. It also provides guidance for courts about maintaining family time during the crisis and ensuring parents maintain access to critical services and treatment.

Source: Children’s Defense Fund

Technology Options from Children’s Bureau

The Children’s Bureau has provided a list of low or no cost technology options that can be used to facilitate child welfare-related communication during COVID-19 public health crisis. This list offers information platforms, associated costs, and a list of major internet providers offering free services to low income households and households with students.

Source: Children’s Defense Fund

Telehealth and Telemedicine Guidelines for Medicare and Medicaid

In order to limit the proliferation of COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expanded access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries. Under the 1135 waiver authority, providers – including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, certified nurse anesthetists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, registered dietitians, and nutrition professionals – can now bill Medicare for office, hospital and other visits performed via telehealth. The provider must use a real-time audio and video telecommunications system that allows communication between the distant site and the patient at home. HIPAA compliance rules have been relaxed to allow a broader range of platforms to be used for telehealth, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype, (Public-facing platforms such as TikTokand Facebook live are not allowed.) Medicaid already has a telehealth option in place, and states have broad flexibility to cover telehealth through Medicaid, without approval from the federal government.

Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

New CDC Guidance for Child Care Programs that are Open

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new guidance for child care centers that must remain open during the COVID-19 epidemic. The guidance includes some new measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19, sanitation practices, modified drop off procedures, and more.

Source: APHSA

ACF Releases New TANF Guidance

The Administration for Children and Families released new program instructions for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program last week. The document addresses concerns around TANF flexibilities related to COVID-19, funding, and timing of approval plan changes. It also addresses application process modifications, work requirements, and more.

Source: APHSA