COVID-19 funding to help agencies continue to serve
Detailing grant options and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act aimed at relieving financial burdens on communities
This article has been updated.
As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, public safety agencies and their local governments will be strained, not only for staffing and resources but also funding to help support continued service delivery to the community.
To address the public health impacts, the Lexipol Grants team recommends that communities work with their public and private health providers to develop strong arguments for the development and/or expansion of telehealth networks.
There are federal funding opportunities through the USDA Rural Telehealth, Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also offers cost recovery for fire and EMS departments through the Public Assistance Grant Program. While states and FEMA are writing more specific directives, local leaders can find additional information to guide them in obtaining support on FEMA's website.
Private foundation funding will be available as well, particularly from larger health insurance providers, like Aetna, Cigna, BlueCross/Blue Shield.
The Lexipol Grants team of experts are closely monitoring the situation, and GrantFinder is being updated daily as new information is released.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Also of note is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which passed the full House on March 14. The Senate passed the bill on March 18, and President Trump subsequently signed the emergency aid package into law later that day.
Below are some of the bill’s key provisions:
- $250 million for Health & Human Services (HHS) programs that aid the elderly, including home delivery and other services that provide food.
- States would be eligible for a 6.2% increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) upon meeting certain criteria. States would have to provide coverage of coronavirus testing without cost-sharing and meet other criteria, such as not imposing more stringent eligibility standards or additional premiums. Those states that then cover the costs of testing for uninsured people through Medicaid programs would receive full reimbursement through FMAP.
- The bill requires insurers to cover coronavirus tests and related services. It would also appropriate $1 billion to allow the National Disaster Medical System to reimburse provider cost associated with testing uninsured individuals.
- $500 million in emergency funding for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and $400 million for the Commodity Assistant Program within the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP), $100 million of which can be used for the costs related to the distribution of goods.
- For any school closed for at least five consecutive days because of a coronavirus-related public health emergency, states may adjust their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) to provide additional aid to households with children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.
- The bill would waive federal work requirements for SNAP eligibility. The waiver would begin the first full month after the bill is enacted and terminate at the end of the first full month after a federal coronavirus-related emergency declaration is lifted. State-imposed work requirements would not be changed, but a person’s participation in SNAP during the emergency cannot be counted for determining compliance with work requirements.
- An emergency paid leave program would be established if this bill is enacted. Private-sector employers with fewer than 500 employees and government entities would have to provide as many as 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for employees who have to: comply with a requirement or recommendation to quarantine because of exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus, provide care to a family member who is complying with such a requirement or recommendation, or provide care for children younger than 18 years of age whose school or daycare has closed because of coronavirus. The first 14 days of leave may be unpaid, though workers can choose to use accrued vacation days, personal leave or other available paid leave for unpaid time off. Following the 14-day period, workers would receive a benefit from their employers that will be at least two-thirds of their normal pay rate.
- This measure would also modify FMLA to allow individuals to use unpaid leave if they are diagnosed with the virus, caring for a family member, or caring for a child whose school or daycare has closed because of a public health emergency through the end of the year.
- Private-sector employers with fewer than 500 workers and government entities would have to provide employees with paid sick leave to self-quarantine, obtain a medical diagnosis or care for coronavirus, provide care for a family member who has been diagnosed or is in quarantine, or for a child whose school or daycare has closed due to coronavirus. Full-time employees would receive 80 hours of sick leave under the new emergency leave program, and part-time workers would be granted time off that’s equivalent to their scheduled or normal work hours in a two-week period. Paid sick time could be carried over from year to year.
Additional COVID-19 information
Continue to follow FireGrantsHelp for additional information about COVID-19 funding opportunities to help ease the burden on local agencies and their communities.