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national news, covid-19

News You Need During Covid-19: Taxes, Student Loans, Work, & Insurance

national news, covid-19

We know that the news has been challenging over the last few weeks as we all try to stay up to date on how current events are impacting our daily lives.

But we did want to share some promising news to help us all manage these unprecedented times. . . and Triage Cancer will continue to do so.

National news:

  • Student Loans: The President has announced that the Education Department would allow federal student loan borrowers to suspend payments for at least 60 days without penalty and would not enforce federal rules on standardized testing for K-12 schools. Borrowers need to contact their student loan servicers to take advantage of the benefit. Additional details on this benefit will likely be out soon: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/delivering-president-trumps-promise-secretary-devos-suspends-federal-student-loan-payments-waives-interest-during-national-emergency
  • Taxes: Americans will now have an additional 90 days to file and pay taxes with an extended deadline of July 15, 2020: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus
  • Working & Taking Time Off: Congress passed a new law called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes unemployment benefits, paid sick leave, paid FMLA leave, provisions for diagnostic testing, and other health services.
  • Paid FMLA Leave: The law is effective 4/2/20 and expires 12/31/20. It applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employees. Employees who have been on the employer’s payroll for 30 calendar days is eligible. Employers are allowed to exclude health care providers or emergency responders from the FMLA leave.
    • Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for “a qualifying need related to a public health emergency.” A qualifying need = employee us unable to work (or telework) to care for a minor child if the child’s school or place of child care has been closed or s unavailable due to a public health emergency.
    • First 10 days (two weeks) are unpaid, but an employee can substitute accrued paid leave (including emergency paid sick leave)
    • Remaining 10 weeks are paid at 2/3 of employee’s regular rate (max payment of $200/day and $10,000 total)
    • Job protection is accepted for employees of employers with fewer than 25 employees, if business hardshipIt also includes refundable tax credits for employers providing paid emergency sick leave or paid FMLA, including self-employed individuals.
  • Paid sick Leave: The law is effective 4/2/20 and expires 12/31/20. It applies to private employers with less than 500 employees, government and school employees. A full-time employee is immediately eligible for 80 hours of paid sick leave, if they are unable to work or telework because the employee is:
  • subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19;
  • experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • caring for an individual subject or advised to quarantine or isolation; or
  • caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed, or childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.If employees are caring for a family member sick leave is paid at 2/3 their regular rate. Part-time employees are eligible for the number of hours that they normally work over a 2-week period. The law limits paid leave to $511/day ($5,110 total) where leave is taken for an employee’s own illness or quarantine; and $200 per day ($2,000 in total) where leave is taken as a caregiver. An employee cannot be required to use accrued leave first, before accessing this new benefit.
  • ACA’s 10th Anniversary: A new report shows the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion has increased access to care, while simultaneously bringing down costs for care at hospitals and clinics. Out of the 404 cases the study analyzed, the report, done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that Medicaid Expansion has reduced the uninsured rate and uncompensated care costs and also potentially contributing to state budget savings.

State Updates:

  • State Covid-19 News: Here is a list to every state’s health department with the latest news.
  • CA, CO, CT, DC, MD, MA, NV, NY, RI, WA: These states have re-opened their health insurance marketplaces for people to buy health insurance. Each state has a different deadline to enroll, so visit your state health insurance marketplace website for details. Their information can be found on the Triage Cancer State Resources page.
  • Oklahoma: Governor Stitt revealed the state’s new Medicaid Plan, which would phase in new requirements for low-income adults. These requirements include that most adults work, volunteer or attend school — and requires some enrollees pay premiums. This conservative proposal directly competes with a voter ballot initiative that would add Medicaid expansion to the state's constitution.

Other Resources:

If you’re looking for information related to working during this time, check out this blog.

View our Health Insurance Resources page for helpful tools.

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Samantha Skelton
ss@triagecancer.org