Senate Approves Coronavirus Relief Bill Ensuring Paid Leave
March 18, 2020
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, the Senate approved a coronavirus relief bill that provides free testing and paid leave for certain workers. The relief bill includes the following:
Free coronavirus testing: Federal health providers such as Medicaid and Medicare, and private health insurers, are required to provide free testing.
Emergency family and sick leave: Employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees and government staffers may take up to 12 weeks of protected family and medical leave, including two weeks at full pay, with any additional weeks taken with no less than two-thirds of the employee's usual pay, to either quarantine or seek preventative care. Small and mid-sized businesses would receive tax credits to pay for medical and family leave of up to 100% of the wages they payout. Employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to provide two weeks of sick leave at full pay for employees who are seeking treatment for the virus. Self-employed individuals would also receive tax credits to receive paid leave. Workers would be eligible for paid sick leave if they have a child whose school or childcare facility is closed due to the coronavirus. These employees are required to receive not less than two-thirds of their regular pay.
Expanded funding for food security programs: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Senior Nutrition Program will receive supplemental funding to assist Americans affected by the virus. The package also provides funding for state waivers to pay for meals for children who normally receive them at school.
Unemployment Insurance: States will receive additional funding to provide unemployment insurance should there be an increase in uninsured people.
Medicaid Funding: The bill would strip employment requirements for Medicaid, and increase Medicaid funding through 2021.
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