Updated March 27, 2020
President Trump on Friday, March 27, signed into law the third legislative relief package developed by lawmakers to respond to the economic crisis created by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (HR 748), also known as the CARES Act, is a nearly $2 trillion “wartime” stimulus intended to protect employers, workers and businesses. For an overview of the CARES Act, watch the ADA webinar What’s in the CARES Act and How It Can Immediately Impact My Dental Practice.
CDA is extremely pleased that the Phase 3 legislation appears to give dentists more of the kind of support they need to maintain their practices and protect themselves and their employees. The country is facing an unprecedented health and economic emergency due to COVID-19. Short-term relief is just one priority; the other is ensuring that dental offices will be able to get up and running to treat patients and address delayed dental needs once the shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted and dentists can begin treating patients safely.
The CARES Act is a step in the right direction to help mitigate the unprecedented and devastating economic damages created by this crisis, but CDA does not expect this to be a panacea or even the final relief effort as the impact of this shutdown may be felt for many months.
CDA is reviewing the act to understand the details of the package and the opportunities it presents for dentists. Implementation will not be immediate and additional regulations and guidance from a number of federal agencies will be needed to clarify what the various provisions mean for dentists.
We will continue communicating to members on how they can take advantage of the opportunities the measure presents as information becomes available, including through the CDA COVID-19 Webinar Series. The series is meant to help guide dentists through the most pressing COVID-19 issues. In addition, we will develop resource guides in the coming days and weeks about the implementation of the legislation, how you can best utilize programs created by the CARES Act, and regulatory measures as they are developed.
In addition to the relief measures in the CARES Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, HR 6201, was signed into law March 18 by the president. It provides that beginning April 1, employers with fewer than 500 employees, must provide additional protected leave to eligible employees, in certain defined situations and with some exemptions. The new requirement, which amends the Family and Medical Leave Act, will expire Dec. 31. The new leave is provided to employees at no cost to the employer, and the cost can be recovered 100% from the federal government. However, several questions remain unanswered. HR 6201 includes an exemption for “employers of health care providers” and small businesses with less than 50 employees that demonstrate that providing the leave would affect the viability of the business.
The law provides that that U.S. Secretary of Labor issue regulations further clarifying these exemptions. At this time, clear regulations have not been issued that define “health care provider” and how small businesses can meet the undue hardship standard identified in the law. CDA anticipates that further clarification from the Department of Labor will be issued in advance of the April 1 effective date. It is important to note that during the first 30 days, the DOL has already issued guidance that the focus will be on assisting employers with seeking to comply with the law and that there will be limited enforcement of the law.
Be sure to check cda.org/covid19 for the latest information on CDA's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and follow us on social media to share these messages with your colleagues.
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