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Frequently Asked Questions

Small Business 

For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program, please see this information sheet from the Department of the Treasury. To find more information or a lending institution to apply through, please see the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) website here. 

  • Can employers reduce hours rather than firing workers?
    • Yes. Arizona has a program called the Arizona Shared Work Program. This program, also known as a Short-Time Compensation (STC) program, allows What assistance is available for small businesses?
    • The CARES Act allocated $350 billion for a new SBA loan program called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These loans are available to small businesses with 500 or fewer employees, 501(c)(3) non profits, 501(c)(19) veterans organizations, as well as self-employed workers, independent contractors, and sole-proprietors. PPP loans are forgivable, but a borrower must maintain their payroll and to qualify for forgiveness.employers who are experiencing a reduction in available work to reduce their employees hours, rather than firing them. Employees who experience reduced hours will be entitled to a portion of UI benefits if their employer chooses to participate in the STC. 
  • How does a small business apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan?
    • Borrowers may apply through all approved SBA small business lenders, which are typically banks. The Treasury will also likely authorize new lenders, including non-banks. PPP loans are not applied for through a government entity. To find a lender, click here. Please note that due to high demand, the website may fail to load for several attempts. 
  • Does a small business qualify for loan forgiveness under PPP if they have laid off workers?
    • Loans small businesses receive under the Paycheck Protection Program will be proportionally forgiven based on the amount of employees and payroll maintained. If a borrower fired workers after Feb. 15th, they may rehire them by June 30th, and the firing will not be counted against their loan forgiveness. 
  • How do you apply for loan forgiveness?
    • You must apply through your lender for forgiveness on your loan. In this application, you must include:
      • Documentation verifying the number of employees on payroll and pay rates, including IRS payroll tax filings and State income, payroll and unemployment insurance filings
      • Documentation verifying payments on covered mortgage obligations, lease obligations, and utilities.
      • Certification from a representative of your business or organization that is authorized to certify that the documentation provided is true and that the amount that is being forgiven was used in accordance with the program’s guidelines for use.
  • What can PPP loans be used for?
    • An employer is eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the amount they spent on the following items during an 8-week period beginning on the date of origination on the loan:
      • Payroll costs using the same calculation used to determine loan eligibility.
        • This includes group healthcare benefits (including premiums), payment of state and local tax assessed on employee compensation, and payment of retirement benefits.  
      • Interest on mortgage payments, but not prepayment or principal payment of mortgage obligation.
      • Interest on any other debt obligations that were incurred before Feb. 15th.
      • Lease and utility payments.
  • What can’t PPP loans be used for?
    • Employee/owner compensation over $100,000.
    • Taxes imposed or withheld under chapters 21, 22, and 24 of the IRS code.
    • Compensation of employees whose principal place of residence is outside of the U.S.
    • Qualified sick and family leave for which a credit is allowed under sections 7001 and 7003 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • When will the small business loans (Paycheck Protection Program) be available?
    • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has said that he expects the Program to be functional by Friday, April 3rd. However, banks have raised concerns about the guidance they have received from the Treasury, so there could be a delay in rolling the program out. 
  • Do small businesses with equity investments (startups) qualify for Payment Protection Program (PPP) Loans?
    • There is currently confusion as to whether startups will have to aggregate employees from companies that have invested in the startup when calculating their eligibility for PPP loans. A group of start-ups and organizations have written to Mnuchin and the SBA for clarity on this question. These organizations include the Arizona Bioindustry Association and Arizona Technology Council. 
  • A small business needs liquidity now – how can it get it?
    • The CARES Act allocated $10 billion for cash advances of $10,000 on loans applied for through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Upon successful application for the loan, the borrower may request the $10,000 advance, and it will be paid within three days. The advance will be distributed even if an applicant is subsequently denied for the loan and does not have to be paid back in any circumstance. The advance forgiveness will, however, be counted against any PPP loan forgiveness a borrower has also participated in. 
  • Can a small business delay paying payroll taxes if they do not participate in the PPP?
    • Yes. The employer side of certain payroll taxes are deferred through the end of 2020. Deferred taxes will not become due until end of 2021 and end of 2022, with 50% of the liability being paid at each date. Any business that does not have a loan forgiven under the new SBA PPP is eligible for the payroll tax deferral.
  • If a business is ineligible for the PPP or chooses not to participate, what other incentives exist to retain employees?
    • An employee retention tax credit is available for struggling businesses that are not eligible or choose not to participate in the new SBA Paycheck Protection Program. Any business that has been forced to fully or partially suspend operations, or that has seen a significant drop in revenues is eligible for a 50-percent credit for wages paid to furloughed or reduced-hour employees. For businesses with 100 employees or less, the credit is based on all wages paid, regardless of whether an employee is furloughed. There is an overall limit on wages per employee of $10,000. The credit can be claimed against the business’s quarterly payroll tax liability and is fully refundable to the extent of excess.
  • What kind of assistance are independent contractors eligible for?
    • Refundable tax credits are available for independent contractors who would have qualified for coronavirus related paid leave if they were employees. IRS will be posting information soon on these credits on its website (www.irs.gov), including information on how to claim these credits.
    • 50 percent of certain self-employment taxes are deferred through the end of 2020. Deferred taxes will not become due until end of 2021 and end of 2022, with 50% of the liability being paid at each date.
    • Independent contractors are also eligible for assistance through the Small Business Administration’s new Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Emergency Grant Program.

Unemployment

  • I’m now unemployed. What benefits exist for me?
    • The CARES Act expanded existing state unemployment insurance (UI) by $600. This means that instead of the maximum UI benefit being $240 a week in Arizona, it is now $840. Arizona’s UI eligibility has been expanded to those who have lost employment because of coronavirus, as well as self-employed individuals, but existing income, work history, and residency eligibility requirements are still in place. 
  • Do I qualify for unemployment insurance if I’m self-employed, a contract worker, or a gig worker? 
  • Do I still have to file taxes by April 15th?
    • No. Both the Arizona and Federal tax filing deadlines have been moved to July 15th.
  • What assistance is available for students who have student loans?
    • Borrowers do not need to make payments on student loans held by the federal government (Direct Loans and FFEL Loans held by the U.S. Department of Education) through September 30, 2020. Borrowers with commercially-held FFEL loans and Perkins Loans are not eligible, and private student loan borrowers are also not eligible. No interest will accrue on such loans for the same time period. This provides more than 37 million borrowers with relief from the financial pressure of making monthly payments for approximately six months.
  • Will another stimulus package be necessary?
    • This depends on the length and extent of the crisis, but it is likely. 

Relief Checks

  • Will an individual who didn’t file taxes last year still get a check? 
    • Yes, they can still file for taxes this year and qualify if they have federally-taxable income. If they did not file taxes in either year, they will still receive a check if they received an SSA-1099/RRB-1099 form for Social Security benefits.
  • Do dependents, other than children under 17, qualify a taxpayer for an additional $500 per dependent? 
    • No, the additional $500 per child is limited to children under 17.
  • If I have a past due debt to a federal or state agency, or owe back taxes, will my rebate be reduced? 
    • No, the bill turns off nearly all administrative offsets that ordinarily may reduce tax refunds for individuals who have past tax debts, or who are behind on other payments to federal or state governments, including student loan payments. The only administrative offset that will be enforced applies to those who have past due child support payments that the states have reported to the Treasury Department.
  • When will stimulus checks be sent out to families/individuals?
    • The IRS will first be issuing the stimulus payments to Americans that receive their tax refunds through direct deposit. In Mid-April (likely, the week of April 13th), about 60 million payments will be sent to those individuals through direct deposit. Three weeks from then (approximately the week of May 4th), the IRS will begin issuing paper checks to remaining individuals at a rate of about 5 million checks per week. Paper checks will be issued in reverse income order, so that people with the lowest incomes will receive their paper checks first. The IRS could take up to 20 weeks to send all of the paper checks out.

Healthcare

Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund:

  • How much funding is included in the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) for assistance for hospitals and health care providers? Who is eligible for the funding? 
    • Of the whole fund, $100 billion set aside for reimbursement for eligible health care entities. These entities include: public entities, Medicare or Medicaid enrolled suppliers and providers, and others that the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) can specify, within the United States (including territories), that provide diagnoses, testing, or care for patients with possible or actual cases of COVID– 19. 
  • What is the purpose of this funding? What can providers be reimbursed for?
    • The purpose of this funding is for health care providers and suppliers to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19, domestically or internationally. These grants are meant to reimburse health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to COVID-19. The funds are available for the following: 
      • building or construction of temporary structures; 
      • leasing of properties; 
      • medical supplies and equipment including personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing supplies; 
      • increased workforce and trainings; 
      • emergency operation centers; 
      • retrofitting facilities; and 
      • surge capacity. 
  • How can providers apply? Is there one application period? 
    • The CARES Act requires that the HHS Secretary receive applications on a rolling basis. The applicants will have to include a justification for why they need the funds. HHS will issue specific application guidance in the coming weeks. 
  • How is funding disbursed? 
    • The CARES Act gives discretion to the HHS Secretary to include prepayment, prospective payment, or retrospective payment but does require that the payment mechanisms take into consideration possible efficient payment systems during the emergency. HHS will issue specific funding distribution guidance in the coming weeks. 
  • Is there a certain amount set aside for hospitals, physicians, health centers, or labs?
    • There are no specific set-asides for any of these providers, but all are eligible to apply for funds if they are public entities, Medicare or Medicaid enrolled providers or suppliers, or others that the Secretary specifies. 

Telehealth:

  • Can Medicare physicians and practitioners use audio-only phone calls to treat their patients? 
    • Medicare currently pays for “virtual check-ins” for quick audio-only calls with existing patients, regardless of the COVID-19 public health emergency. With the passage of the CARES Act, Medicare providers across the country can now also treat their patients using e-visits with both video and/or audio calls for the duration of the public health emergency. 
  • Does the physician have to have a pre-existing relationship with the Medicare beneficiary to conduct an e-visit with telehealth in Medicare? 
    • Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance stating it would not enforce a provision of law that requires a pre-existing relationship with a physician or practitioner to use telehealth for expanded telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Additionally, the CARES Act struck the statutory requirement of this pre-existing relationship in order to furnish Medicare telehealth services for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, in order to expand telehealth use. 
  • Can Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health Centers (RHC) bill for telehealth services? 
    • Currently, under Medicare physicians and practitioners enrolled in Medicare who practice at FQHCs and RHCs can bill for telehealth services, but the FQHC and RHC facilities themselves cannot bill for these services. Under the CARES Act, FQHC and RHC facilities can now bill for telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The FQHCs and RHCs will be paid based on payment rates that are similar to the national average payment rates that Medicare physicians get paid under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. This is to ensure a level playing field with physicians who bill for Medicare telehealth services in other care settings. 
  • What about patients with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
    • Currently, patients with ESRD are eligible for telehealth. If a patient is receiving home dialysis, telehealth can be used to monitor the adequacy of nutrition, assessment of growth and development, and counseling of parents. However, a physician or practitioner must have an in-person visit monthly to check the Medicare beneficiary’s vascular access site. Given the frailty of this population and its vulnerability to COVID-19, the CARES Act gives the HHS Secretary authority to waive this in-person visit for the home-dialysis population during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 
  • Can patients in hospice receive services through telehealth? 
    • In order for a Medicare beneficiary to continue to be eligible for hospice care, a hospice provider must have a face-to-face encounter with the beneficiary and recertify their eligibility for hospice. The CARES Act waives the requirement that this recertification must be face-to-face and allows for physicians and nurses to recertify patients for hospice through telehealth during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 
  • What about health care facilities that don’t offer telehealth now, but want to expand their capabilities to include this service, especially in rural areas? 
    • The CARES Act reauthorizes Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant programs that promote the use of telehealth technologies for health care delivery, education, and health information services. The bill also reauthorizes HRSA grant programs to strengthen rural community health by focusing on quality improvement, increasing health care access, coordination of care, and integration of services. 

Coverage and Affordability:

  • Does the CARES Act make sure that patients don’t have costs associated with COVID-19 testing? 
    • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), passed on March 18th, provided that COVID-19 testing would be free of charge to all Americans, including those in Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, as well as the uninsured. The CARES Act builds on these consumer protections. 
  • Does the CARES Act make sure that patients don’t have costs associated with COVID-19 vaccination? 
    • The CARES Act requires that any COVID-19 vaccine developed in the future be provided free of charge to Medicare beneficiaries and individuals with private insurance coverage. It does not mandate coverage of vaccines in the Medicaid program or for the uninsured. While The Maintenance of Effort (MOE) provisions in the FFCRA does condition the temporary increase in federal funds on states’ Medicaid programs covering vaccines without cost sharing, this is a temporary fix for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. 
  • What does the CARES Act do to help consumers who lose their employer sponsored insurance? 
    • The CARES Act does not offer additional assistance for individuals who lose coverage with the loss of a job.
  • Was there anything done to help insurance companies who are potentially facing a great number of costs because of the pandemic? 
    • The CARES Act provides no risk mitigation or assistance to health insurers. 

Other Healthcare Provisions:

  • Nursing homes have become hot spots in the COVID-19 crisis. Is there any support to help these facilities manage the crisis? 
    • The CARES Act includes $200 million to CMS to assist nursing homes with infection control and support states’ survey and certification efforts to improve quality of care and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes. They can also access the $100 billion funding in the PHSSEF. Nursing homes will also benefit from the provision in the CARES Act that delays the Medicare sequester, which cuts payments by two percent, until December 31, 2020. 
  • What does the CARES Act do to help Community Health Centers? 
    • The CARES Act includes $1.3 billion in additional funding for Community Health Centers (CHC) to respond to COVID-19. This includes providing expanded health care services, purchasing necessary equipment like PPE, or expanding staffing levels. They can also access the $100 billion funding in the PHSSEF. In addition, the CARES Act extends the CHC Fund through November 30, 2020. 
  • What does the CARES Act do to help our health care workers receive more PPE? 
    • The CARES Act contains many funding streams available to health care entities to purchase additional PPE for their front-line workers. This includes: 
      • $100 billion included in the PHSSEF – PPE purchase is an eligible expense for health entities; 
      • $16 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) – PPE purchase and distribution are eligible expenses; 
      • $1.5 billion for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to send to states/localities/territories/tribes – PPE purchase and distribution are eligible expenses; 
      • $1 billion for the Defense Production Act to invest in manufacturing to help increase production of PPE; and 
      • $250 million for the Hospital Preparedness Program – PPE purchase and distribution are eligible expenses. 

Food Assistance

  • Congress has now secured $850 million in emergency funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to help food banks face increased utilization and demand in countless communities across the country due to the coronavirus. Click here for your state contacts or find a local food bank near you. 
    •  To find food assistance near you, call the USDA National Hunger Hotline 1-866-3-HUNGRY/1- 877-8-HAMBRE 
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps, ensures that Americans receive the food they need, especially if they are newly unemployed. Congress has invested in SNAP in the last three bills to help Americans put food on the table during this crisis. 

Local Resources

What should I do if I think I have the virus?

  • Call your primary care physician of the he AZ hotline at 2-1-1 to find out if your symptoms qualify you for testing
  • Stay home, practice social distancing, address your symptoms, and advise those you have recently come into contact with do the same.
  • In partnership with the CDC, Apple released an app and website that guides Americans through questions about their health and exposure to determine if they should seek care for COVID-19 symptoms.  The tool provides CDC recommendations on next steps. You can access more information here.

How can I help?

  • Call the AZ hotline at 2-1-1 to find out how you can volunteer or where to make donations
  • Donations of unused medical supplies and PPE are in high demand. All donations must be in an unopened, sealed container or box. Requested donations include:
    • Masks (N95 and surgical/procedural)
    • Disinfecting wipes (Clorox, Lysol, other brands)
    • Alcohol-based cleaning wipes such as Sani-cloth wipes
    • Non-latex gloves (nitrile)
    • Protective face shields or goggles that can be worn over glasses
    • Isolation, surgical or cover gowns, and protective Tyvek or similar fabric disposable coveralls
    • Head and shoe covers
    • Non-perfumed hand sanitizer appropriate for use in a clinical setting, with greater than 60% ethanol alcohol or 70% isopropanol (No gels containing glitter)
    • Paper towels
    • Liquid hand soap
    • Homemade masks for optional social-comfort use by Banner’s health care workers (not to be used while providing medical care)
  • Donations can be made at:
    • Tucson: Banner Home Health, 575 E River Rd, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    • Bisbee: Please email at angarcia@cqch.org or (520) 432-6466 to contact our staff to coordinate drop off times
    • Sierra Vista: Please call Canyon Vista Medical Center at 520-263-2000 to coordinate a donation drop off (only accepting disposable masks)

Abbreviation Key

CDC = Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

PPP = Payment Protection Program Loans 

HHS = Health and Human Services 

PPE = personal protective equipment

CMS = Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 

FQHC = Federally Qualified Health Centers

RHC =  Rural Health Centers 

ESRD = End-Stage Renal Disease 

MOE = Maintenance of Effort 

HRSA = Health Resources and Services Administration 

FFCRA = Families First Coronavirus Response Act 

CHC = Community Health Centers 

SNS = Strategic National Stockpile 

TEFAP = The Emergency Food Assistance Program 

SNAP = Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program 

UI = unemployment insurance