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PVA Provision on Aid and Attendance Included in Latest COVID Response Package
- Section 811 ‘‘Housing for Persons with Disabilities’’—$200 million would be provided to maintain operations for such housing, for providing supportive services, and for taking other necessary actions to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including actions to self-isolate, quarantine, or to provide other coronavirus infection control services as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
- Home and Community Based Services—Medicaid would receive increased federal support and the Secretary for Health and Humans Services (HHS) would be directed to evaluate the implementation and outcomes of these services.
- Testing Strategies–-HHS would have to update the COVID–19 strategic testing strategy identifying ways in which social distancing efforts, when determined appropriate by public health officials, can be undertaken in a manner that optimizes the health and safety of people and reduces disparities (including disparities related to race, ethnicity, sex, age, disability status, socioeconomic status, and geographic location) in the prevalence of, incidence of, and health outcomes with respect to, COVID–19. Such strategy must include specific plans to ensure accessibility of testing to people with disabilities, older individuals, and individuals with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems.
- Data Collection—CDC would award grants to state, local, and territorial health departments to support the modernization of data collection methods to increase data related to health inequities, such as racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, sex, gender, and disability disparities.
- Emergency Leave—leave provisions contained in the previously passage COVID-19 package would be extended to caregivers of seniors or adults with disabilities.
- Voting Accessibility—states would be directed to ensure that all absentee ballots and related voting materials in elections for federal office are accessible to individuals with disabilities in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including with privacy and independence) as for other voters.
President Signs Latest COVID-19 Relief Bill
On April 24, President Trump signed H.R. 266, the “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act” into law. The $484 billion relief bill replenished the depleted Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and provided much needed aid to the country’s hospitals amid the coronavirus outbreak. The bill, which was also referred to as “Stimulus 3.5,” allocates $310 billion toward the PPP, $10 billion for Emergency Economic Injury Disaster grants, and an additional $50 billion for the Disaster Loans Program Account. The remaining $114 billion goes toward hospitals and health agencies for the reimbursement of COVID-19 related expenses to replace lost revenue or cover necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests. VA did not ask for, nor will it receive, any funds from this measure. VA received nearly $20 billion in funding in the $2 trillion-dollar COVID relief bill passed in late March.
Economic Impact Payments for Veterans on VA Benefits
On April 17, VA announced it is working directly with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and U.S. Treasury Department to ensure delivery of “Economic Impact Payments” to veterans and survivors who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments from VA without additional paperwork or IRS filings. The “Economic Impact Payments” will be issued automatically to recipients of non-taxable VA benefits who did not file annual income tax returns for 2018 or 2019. For veterans who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and have dependents under the age of 17, they need to submit their dependent information to the IRS’s portal prior to May 5 in order to qualify for the additional $500 per child payment. For more information on CARES Act ‘Economic Impact Payments,’ visit: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know.