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House passes new COVID-19 relief package; Senate fate uncertain

May 18, 2020

The U.S. House of Representatives passed (208-199) the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act H.R. 6800) on May 15. As the bill is not expected to pass the Senate, it serves as a starting for negotiations on the next bipartisan COVID-19 relief package. Nonetheless, the $3 trillion dollar package includes several ASTRO priorities outlined in a May 4 letter to Congress, including:

Provider Relief Fund:
The HEROES Act includes an additional $100 billion in funding for the Provider Relief Fund, with specific guidance for distribution. Providers would be reimbursed on a quarterly basis for all COVID-19 related expenses and a portion of their lost revenues.

Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program:
The bill would lower the loan’s interest rate, extend the payment period, and lower the amount of per claim recoupment. These three actions coincide directly with the changes ASTRO recommended for the program.

Health Insurance Coverage:
The bill would provide subsidies for the cost of COBRA premiums so that the unprecedented number of unemployed workers would be able to maintain their employer-sponsored coverage. The bill would also establish special enrollment periods for Medicare beneficiaries and those looking for coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges.

Small Business Relief:
The bill would expand Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan eligibility to non-profit organizations, including 501(c)(6) organizations such as ASTRO, and extend the loan use deadline from 8 weeks to 24 weeks.

Main Street Lending Program:
H.R. 6800 would expand eligibility to non-profit organizations and stipulates that the Fed offer a low-cost loan option for those organizations and other small businesses. The low-cost option would not have a minimum loan size requirement.