Insurance Systems Group remains committed to helping clients during this time of crisis in any way we can. This means going above and beyond our normal capacity as your agent and adviser. With that in mind, we have aggregated available resources on one page for your benefit.
Increased Medicare Payment for High-Production COVID-19 Tests
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced Medicare will nearly double payment for certain lab tests that use high-throughput technologies to rapidly diagnose large numbers of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. This is another action the Trump Administration is taking to rapidly expand COVID-19 testing, particularly for those with Medicare, including nursing home residents who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and most affected by COVID-19 outbreaks across the country.
“CMS has made a critical move to ensure adequate reimbursement for advanced technology that can process a large volume of COVID-19 tests rapidly and accurately,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “This is an absolute game-changer for nursing homes, where risk of Coronavirus infection is high among our most vulnerable.”
For more information on this payment announcement, click HERE.
Payroll Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.
SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.
For frequently asked questions, click HERE to view the PPP FAQs.
Support for Small Businesses & Non-Profits
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved the request sent Tuesday by Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted to allow small businesses and nonprofits in Ohio to apply for low-interest, long-term loans of up to $2 million through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loans may be used by Ohio small business owners and non-profits to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster's impact. Loan applications can be completed online at disasterloan.sba.gov or applicants can obtain a paper application by calling (800) 659-2955.
Additionally, a checklist for businesses and employers is HERE.
Earlier this week Gov. DeWine and Lt. Gov. Husted announced that anyone who is laid off as a direct result of COVID-19 is immediately eligible for benefits. This measure will give relief to applicants who are not offered paid leave through their job, as well as those who have been quarantined by a medical professional, their employer, or whose employers must temporarily close. Those who apply for unemployment under these circumstances will be exempt from the requirement that they be actively seeking work.
Yesterday, it was announced that 111,055 Ohioans have applied for unemployment to date. Ohioans can apply for unemployment benefits online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at unemployment.ohio.gov. The state continues to urge people to file using the website. It is also possible to file by phone at 877-644-6562 or TTY at 888-642-8203, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Employers with questions should email UCTech@jfs.ohio.gov. Workers with coronavirus-related claims can use the mass-layoff number 2000180 on their applications, but those who have already submitted claims do not need to add it.
One-Time Liquor Buyback for Bars and Restaurants
The Ohio Department of Commerce is offering a one-time liquor buyback option to support bars and restaurants that have been forced to close. This will especially aid those establishments that stocked up on high proof liquor ahead of the St. Patrick's Day holiday.
Bars and restaurants wishing to take advantage of this opportunity should return their unopened, high proof liquor products (obtained within the past 30 days) to the agency where they purchased the product. This opportunity is also extended to those with temporary (F2) permits for events scheduled between March 12 and April 6, 2020.
If a business has questions about this program, they should reach out directly to the Liquor Enterprise Service Center (LESC) at 1 (877) 812-0013 or by emailing OhioLiquorInfo@Com.Ohio.gov.
Health Insurance Coverage Flexibility for Ohio Employees
In response to the Department of Health recommendations designed to prevent or alleviate the public health threat, The Department of Insurance issued the following orders:
- Employee Eligibility: Insurers must permit employers to continue covering employees under group health policies even if the employee would otherwise become ineligible due to a decrease in hours worked per week.
- Grace Period for Premium Payments: All insurers are to give the option of deferring premium payments coming due, interest free, for up to 60 calendar days from the original due date.
- Continuation of Coverage: Employers with 20 or more employees, assuming at least one person remains actively employed. Eligible employees may elect to continue coverage under COBRA under the normal notice and election procedures.
- Special Enrollment: Employees who lose coverage are eligible for a special enrollment period to enroll in new coverage.
For more detail, you can read the order below or email Rodika Bender, our Health Insurance Advisor, for questions on how this may impact your Group.