What We Know and Don’t Know about the Pending Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

The bill isn’t law yet.

The Senate has announced it has struck a deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, which it expects to pass this afternoon. However, the bill will also need to be passed in the House, which is unlikely to vote on it today, and which has not yet indicated it will support the bill. (The House is not currently in session, and the only way for it to pass the bill without bringing everyone back would be to get unanimous consent from all members, which seems unlikely.) After that, it must be signed into law by the President, who has indicated support for the current version of the bill.

Unfortunately, as of the posting of this article, the actual text of the bill has not been released, making it difficult to answer questions with any accuracy.

The bill includes direct payments to some taxpayers.

The bill includes direct payments of $1,200 to taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes up to $75,000 per year, with lower amounts to taxpayers earning between $75,000 and $99,000, and no payments for incomes above that. For married couples, the payment will be $2,400 for couples with total adjusted gross incomes of up to $150,000, scaling down up to $198,000, at which point no payment will be made. Additional payments of $500 per child will also be made, apparently to all taxpayers, regardless of income. We don’t know the amounts of the payments that will be made for the upper eligible income brackets, nor do we know what year’s filing will be used to determine income, given this year’s extended deadline for reporting.

The bill significantly broadens unemployment benefits.

The bill will broaden the unemployment benefit program to cover freelancers, furloughed employees, and gig workers, who are usually not covered. It is unclear how these workers will be identified, though it seems likely it will be based on tax filings. The bill will also extend unemployment insurance by 13 weeks and will increase benefits by $600 per week over the amount already paid by state benefit programs, for four months.

The bill provides for loans to small businesses who keep their workers.

Per the New York Times, “The bill provides federally guaranteed loans available at community banks to small businesses that pledge not to lay off their workers. The loans would be available during an emergency period ending June 30, and would be forgiven if the employer continued to pay workers for the duration of the crisis.” It is unclear whether workers would need to be paid the same wages or at the same number of hours during this time. While we do know that the total fund for this loan program is $367 billion, we don’t know the size of the individual loans. And since we don’t know how a “small business” will be defined, we don’t know who will actually be eligible.

The bill creates a $500 billion lending fund for industries, states, and cities.

These loans would come from a fund controlled by the Federal Reserve. While we know that $75 billion of this fund is earmarked for specific industries, like airlines and hotels, we don’t know who else will be eligible for the loans, what the amounts of the loans will be, whether the loans will be forgivable, and how the application process will work. We do know, though, that any companies that do receive the loans will be prohibited from engaging in stock buybacks for the length of the loan and for one year afterward. And, we know that companies owned by President Trump will be specifically carved out as ineligible.

The bill will provide additional funding for hospitals and state and local governments.

While we know generally that the bill includes a $130 billion fund for hospitals and health systems and a $150 billion fund for state and local governments, we have no information on the eligibility requirements for these hospitals and governmental entities, nor how they will receive these funds or what the amounts may be. We also do not know whether a health care provider unaffiliated with hospitals and health systems may still be eligible.

Clearly, there is much yet to learn about the stimulus package working its way through our legislature. We will keep you up to date as more becomes known. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

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Lora L. Zimmer

Health Law and Title IX Attorney at McCarty Law LLP
Lora focuses her practice in corporate and business transactions, with a particular focus on the business and regulatory needs of health care clients. In addition, Lora is a trained Title IX investigator, providing prompt, thorough investigations and objective reporting in response to alleged violations of schools’ sexual misconduct policies.