Visclosky May 20 Update on COVID-19

May 20, 2020
Press Release
Below is an update on efforts being taken to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
 
On May 15, 2020, I supported and the House approved H.R. 6800, The Heroes Act, by a vote of 208 to 199.  This measure includes the following provisions designed to assist American individuals, small businesses, and health-care professionals and other essential workers during this pandemic:
 
Giving hazard pay to our heroes – Establishes a Heroes Fund to provide health-care workers, grocery workers, and other essential workers with $13 per hour in additional pay during the pandemic, with an individual cap of $10,000 in enhanced funding for each worker.
 
Sending direct payments to Americans – Provides Americans with another payment of up to $1,200 of immediate assistance per individual.
 
Ensuring safety in the workplace – Requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue regulations mandating that employers implement plans to protect their employees from exposure to COVID-19, as well as prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report COVID-19 workplace hazards or that bring their own personal protective equipment to use from home.
 
Fighting for affordable health care – Authorizes a two-month special enrollment period to offer the uninsured an additional opportunity to sign up for a health-insurance plan on the federal marketplace, mandates that all private health-insurance plans cover treatment of COVID-19 with no cost-sharing, and provides for federal coverage of all COBRA premiums during the pandemic.
 
Reinforcing our nation’s health-care system – Provides $100 billion to reimburse hospitals and health-care providers for expenses and lost revenue resulting from the pandemic, as well as $75 billion to improve our nation’s capacity to test, trace, and reduce cases of COVID-19.
 
Working to find a cure – Includes $9.32 billion for federal research on COVID-19 and the development and manufacture of eventual therapeutics and vaccines.
 
Bringing relief to states, communities, and businesses – Provides $500 billion in relief funding for states, $375 billion in relief funding for local governments, and $10 billion in additional grants for small businesses.
 
Supporting our educators and students – Allocates $100.15 billion to support the continued operation of K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, extends the deferral of payments and interest on federally-held student loans through September 30, 2021, and provides up to $10,000 in debt relief to borrowers of federal and private student loans that are in default, serious delinquency, forbearance, deferment, or that pay $0 in monthly payments.
 
Improving unemployment and paid leave benefits – Extends enhanced unemployment benefits authorized by Congress through January 31, 2021, and enhanced paid leave benefits to employees through the end of 2021. 
 
Preventing hunger in our communities – Increases the benefit level of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by 15 percent and provides $150 million to local food banks in order to meet increased demand.
 
More information on The Heroes Act can be found at https://appropriations.house.gov/.  Looking forward, the House will now enter into negotiations with the Senate on this legislation.  As this process moves forward, I would encourage you to contact your U.S. Senators to share your thoughts on The Heroes Act.  I would also ask that you continue to remain in touch with my office through my website, at https://visclosky.house.gov, or by phone, at 219-795-1844.  Please consider my office as a resource should you or your loved ones face difficulty accessing federal resources during the pandemic, require assistance after experiencing sudden economic hardship, or have questions or concerns about the status of ongoing state and federal efforts to fight COVID-19.