April 27 Covid-19 Update

April 27, 2020

FEDERAL UPDATES

SBA Resumes Accepting PPP Applications

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will accept applications for the second round of funding of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from lenders beginning Monday, April 27th at 10:30 am. It is critically important that small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic work with their lender to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program as soon as possible. Businesses can access the SBA’s Find A Lender tool at https://www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection/find.

Additionally, using SBA data, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has published this list (https://www.mass.gov/doc/ppp-eligible-lenders-and-first-round-participants-sba-data) of institutions that provided loans to Massachusetts companies in the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program. The list also includes all entities that appeared on the SBA’s approved lenders list, which was last updated on April 13, 2020.

Any small businesses in need of application translation services or other technical assistance should access Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation’s online resources, including a list of technical assistance providers who can help businesses apply for PPP in languages other than English: https://empoweringsmallbusiness.org/resources/covid-19-small-business-resources

 

COVID-19 FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grants

FEMA has announced that $100 million will be available for the Fiscal Year 2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grant – COVID-19 Supplemental Program (AFG-S) to help provide personal protective equipment to firefighters and first responders who are managing emergencies during the coronavirus pandemic. The application period will be open from Tuesday, April 28th at 8am to Friday, May 15th at 5pm. Interested applicants can begin preparing applications by reviewing guidance materials here: https://www.fema.gov/welcome-assistance-firefighters-grant-program

Stimulus Payments for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

The IRS has released guidance with the specific goal of clarifying that homeless populations likely qualify for a stimulus payment, stressing that they may need to register utilizing the Non-Filers Tool here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here. Information such as a driver’s license number or bank account information are optional, not required.

BAKER ADMINISTRATION UPDATES

 Second round of funding and required testing for nursing facilities

The administration is releasing a second round of up to $130 million in funding for two months for nursing homes that meet specific requirements and accountability measures. The funding is dependent on required COVID-19 testing of all staff and residents, regular infection control audits, appropriate allocation of funding and the public release of facility performance and funding use.

The Commonwealth will offer support for temporary staffing assistance for all nursing homes in need. This includes clinical response teams of 120 nurses and CNAs deployed in teams of 10 during emergency situations, crisis management support and deployment of the Massachusetts National Guard. These efforts will be supported by a centralized infection control performance improvement center established by the Massachusetts Senior Care Association.

Further details about this second round of funding available for nursing facilities include:

  • Required Testing: Facilities must test all staff and residents, and report results to the state. Facilities are also encouraged to identify and pursue testing avenues with area hospitals, EMS or other providers. The state’s mobile testing program is available for those facilities unable to set up testing.
  • In-person Clinical Audits: All nursing facilities will be regularly audited in-person for infection control and accountability, and each will receive a baseline audit during the first two weeks of May. These clinical audits will be conducted using a 28-point Infection Control Checklist, based on DPH, CDC and industry guidance. This checklist includes infection control, PPE supply and usage, staffing, clinical care, and communication requirements.

Facilities will be scored into three ratings: in adherence (green), in adherence but warrants inspection (yellow) and not in adherence (red).

  • Funding Accountability: Funding release is dependent on accountability measures, including audit ratings and appropriate funding allocation. Facilities must use this funding for staffing, infection control, PPE and other supports that directly benefit staff, including hotels for staff retention and infection control.
  • Staffing Supports: The Commonwealth will provide temporary staffing assistance to all nursing homes during the COVID-19 public health crisis, including clinical rapid response teams to provide urgent, short-term staffing for facilities in need, crisis management experts, and the deployment of the Massachusetts National Guard to aid with logistical, environmental and other supports. The state will also contract with staffing agencies to support facilities that are otherwise unable to access staffing agencies.
  • Infection Control Performance Improvement Center: The Massachusetts Senior Care Association and Hebrew Senior Life, in coordination with other industry providers, will lead an infection control performance improvement center to ensure accountability and provide assistance to facilities that are struggling with infection control capability. The performance improvement center will provide infection control protocols and trainings and PPE supply chain and management support, as well as identify, triage and provide infection control specialist support and intervention.
  • Public Reporting: All performance measures and funding use will be publicly reported using a mandatory reporting template, and the Commonwealth will provide consolidated information in the testing completion status by facility, COVID-19 case counts and mortality of staff and residents, and audit results. These reports will be due shortly after June 30, and the Commonwealth will then compile and deliver a public report.

The full release about nursing home accountability and support is here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-nursing-facility-accountability-and-support/download

 

Increased Support for Residential Congregate Care Service Providers

The administration is providing a second phase of increased funding – $44 million – across purchase of service residential congregate care service providers during the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding builds on the $95 million in increased funding announced on March 30, bringing the total funding for these providers to $139 million, and will support increased staffing costs, infection control and PPE.

To mitigate many residential congregate care service providers’ expenses related to the COVID-19 surge, Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) agencies will increase the monthly reimbursement for May and June services for an additional 15%, in addition to the previously announced 10% increase. Further support to address provider needs during the surge include mobile COVID-19 testing expansion and coordination with MEMA to provide PPE to providers.

EOHHS agencies work with 238 residential service providers throughout the Commonwealth to ensure the health and well-being of over 20,500 individuals reflecting diverse populations, including children, youth and families, and individuals with physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disabilities and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

The full release on congregate care support can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/congregate-care-support-one-pager-april-2020/download

DHCD Guidance on evictions and foreclosures moratorium

DHCD has issued guidance for landlords and tenants in accordance with the new law on evictions and foreclosures.

All of the guidance can be found here:  https://www.mass.gov/lists/moratorium-on-evictions-and-foreclosures-forms-and-other-resources#emergency-regulations-

 

MassHealth Issues Bulletin on the Temporary Expansion of Home Health Aide Services

In light of the state of emergency declared in the Commonwealth due to the 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, MassHealth is introducing additional flexibilities for the provision of home health aide services to MassHealth members who have an existing prior authorization for Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services.

For the duration of the state of emergency,  MassHealth will permit home health agencies to provide home health aide services to MassHealth members with an existing prior authorization for PCA services when a member is experiencing a disruption in receipt of PCA services due to COVID-19.

The bulletin can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/home-health-agency-bulletin-57-temporary-expansion-of-home-health-aide-services-0

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