Insider Alert 3/19/2020 5:57 PM

Governor Pritzker's expands telehealth coverage in daily press conference; President Trump signs legislation for paid sick leave, paid family leave

Additional assistance has recently been announced on the federal and state level as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. On the state level, Governor Pritzker has set new coverage requirements for both Medicaid and private insurance on telehealth exams provided by optometrists & other health care providers. Additionally, low interest disaster relief funds have become available. Please continue reading to learn more about how these changes will impact you and your practice. On the federal level, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has expanded paid leave and sick time for employees affected by the coronavirus.

Governor Pritzker's Daily Press Conference: Telehealth expanded by emergency proclamation

In today's press conference, Governor Pritzker reported that an additional 3 people have died today from COVID-19 in Illinois. They include a citizen from Will County, a citizen from Cook County, and a Florida resident visiting Sangamon County.

In an effort to further limit exposure to COVID-19, Governor Pritzker issued an Executive Order to expand the use of telemedicine for Illinois Medicaid and private insurance. The order requires all health insurers regulated by the Department of Insurance to cover the costs of all Telehealth Services rendered by in-network providers to deliver any clinically appropriate, medically necessary covered services and treatments to insureds, enrollees, and members under each policy. This includes the use of video technology commonly found on smartphones such as FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype.

Additionally, health insurance issuers cannot impose any cost-sharing (copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance) for telehealth services provided by an in-network provider. Please note that this does not apply to an enrollee in a high-deductible health plan who has not met the applicable deductible under the terms of their coverage, unless the particular charge is deemed "preventative care."

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Doctors: sign up for emergency notices from the Department of Public Health through dph.siren@illinois.gov

The governor also announced access to low interest disaster relief loans. More information can be found at diasterloan.sba.gov

Congress passes legislation to provide sick leave and family leave for those affected by COVID-19

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and President Trump signed it into law soon after. The bill will provide free screening for COVID-19, paid sick leave, and paid family leave for those affected by COVID-19. Here's a summary of what's included in the legislation:

Paid sick leave & family leave
The new law grants two weeks of paid sick leave at 100% of the person's salary with a maximum of $511 per day. It would also provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave at 67% of the person's normal pay, with a maximum of $200 per day. People who are self-employed can get these benefits in the form of a tax credit.

Exemptions for large and small businesses
Large companies with more than 500 employees were not included in this bill. These employees will need to rely on the policies of the company.

Employers with less than 50 employees can apply for an exemption from providing paid family leave and paid sick leave "if it would jeopardize the viability of the business," according to the Washington Post.

Tax credits for small businesses
The bill will provide tax credits to ease the burden on companies. the credit is applied to the tax the company pays normally pays for each employee's Social Security.

Self-employed
Those who are self-employed can qualify for these benefits in the form of a tax credit. These workers must show that they had to comply with a self-isolation recommendation or that they had to care for a child whose school or child-care closed due to the coronavirus.

Who qualifies
The two weeks of paid sick leave will apply for anyone told to quarantine, those showing symptoms or who have been exposed to the virus, or those who are trying to get a test or preventive care. Additional qualifications include those who are caring for someone who is in quarantine or isolation, or if a child's school or child care service has closed due to coronavirus.

A person is eligible for paid family leave if they have to leave work to care for a child whose school or childcare facility is closed due to the coronavirus. The employee must have been on the payroll for at least 30 calendar days in order to be eligible.

How to apply for the tax credit
Small businesses will have to apply for a tax credit to be reimbursed for these costs. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin pledged to get the process up and running as quickly as possible, but acknowledged that it will take some time to create the necessary forms and procedures.