LSA Blog

President Biden Signs “American Rescue Plan” into Law

Blog Date: 
Friday, March 12, 2021

On Thursday, President Biden signed into law the most recent broad COVID relief legislative package, known as the “American Rescue Plan.”  While the legislation does not fully address our key priorities, it does improve on previous law, and includes a number of provisions that will impact our member network which we have outlined below. Significantly, the law expands eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program to organizations with 500 or more employees across multiple locations, but with no more than 500 employees at a single one of those locations. Applications must be submitted to lenders by March 31.

Key Provisions of H.R. 1319

Paycheck Protection Program

  • Additional funding of $7.25 billion, increasing the total program level to $813.7 billion.
  • The program is still set to expire on March 31.
  • Eligibility expanded to nonprofit organizations with 500 or more employees across multiple locations, but with no more than 500 employees at a single one of those locations. 
    • If your organization will only become eligible under this expansion, it is especially important to prepare immediately to be able to apply quickly, given the short timeframe between enactment of the law and the program’s expiration.
    • The Small Business Administration which runs this program has not yet indicated whether there will be a new or different application form or additional required supporting documents for this new group of eligible applicants, so we recommend you review the current application form and related information, available on our website and on the SBA website, and that you talk with your lender. 
  • Other loan types still available:
  • “First Draw” loans for entities with fewer than 500 employees total who have not already received funding
  • “Second Draw” loans for entities that:
    • have already received and spent an initial PPP loan
    • have no more than 300 employees, and
    • can demonstrate a 25% reduction in gross receipts. 
  • For more information about this program and application requirements, including possible required documentation, please check our website and contact your lender.

Unemployment Insurance Relief for Reimbursing Employers

  • Extends the subsidy for costs incurred by employers who provide unemployment benefits on a reimbursable basis, rather than via tax contributions, through September 6, 2021.
  • Increases the subsidy from 50% to 75% for weeks beginning after March 31.

Payments to Rural Medicare or Medicaid Providers

  • $8.5 billion for payments to rural Medicare or Medicaid providers who provide diagnoses, testing, or care for individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID–19, for health care related expenses and lost revenues that are attributable to COVID–19 and are not otherwise reimbursable.
  • We anticipate further details about this funding once the Department of Health and Human Services begins shaping the program.

FMAP Increase for HCBS

  • A one-year increase of 10% of the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid providers for home and community-based services (HCBS) for states that implement one or more activities to enhance, expand or strengthen these services.  (We anticipate that CMS will determine what these activities are.) This is an increase from the 7.35% from the original bill.
  • This is in addition to the 6.2% FMAP increase for Medicaid overall which will continue through the public health emergency.

Skilled Nursing Facility Support

  • $200 million for Quality Improvement Organizations to provide support with infection control and vaccine uptake.
  • $250 million for allocation among the states to establish strike teams that will be deployed to skilled nursing facilities with diagnosed or suspected cases of COVID–19 among residents or staff for the purposes of assisting with clinical care, infection control, or staffing.

Older Americans Act Programs

  • An additional $1.4 billion including $460 million for efforts related to vaccination outreach and prevention and mitigation activities related to COVID–19 focused on addressing extended social isolation among older individuals.

Medicaid Expansion Incentive

  • A 5% base FMAP rate increase for two years to states who had not previously expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act but do so now.

Housing

  • $21.55 billion more for the emergency rental assistance program originally authorized in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 in December.
  • $5 billion in homeless assistance and supportive services funding that will flow through the HOME Investment Partnerships program to states and localities.

Child Care Stabilization

  • $24 billion to Child Care and Development Block lead agencies, to award subgrants to qualified child care providers that are either open and available to provide services or closed for reasons related to COVID19.  

State, Local, and Tribal Government Support

  • $362 billion to be used for responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, to offset revenue losses, bolster economic recovery and to provide premium pay for essential workers.
    • Among the allowable uses of these funds, up to $13 per hour extra may be paid to workers “needed to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors and additional sectors” as designated by a governor or tribal government.
    • We anticipate further details about this program will be forthcoming once states begin shaping their own programs.  

Expanded Unemployment Benefits

  • Benefits extended through September 6, 2021, with an additional weekly payment of $300 (reduced from the $400 in the original version of the bill.)  

Not Included in this Legislation

  • A phased increase in the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour by 2025.

Additional Resources

Lutheran Services in America appreciates our members’ work on the frontlines of the pandemic caring for people while taking extraordinary steps to protect their staff and people served. We intend to continue our aggressive call for additional Congressional legislation to support members’ business continuity and services during this difficult time.

Join us to ensure our faith-based advocacy voice is heard by lawmakers. Your voice is more important now than ever before.


By Sarah Dobson, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy

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