West Virginia individuals, businesses, healthcare providers, state and local governments all stand to get money from the $2 trillion stimulus bill headed for passage in Congress.
The bill is hundreds of pages and has been described as having something for everyone. Brad McElhinny has more details here.
But here’s my take on some key elements that will have the most impact in the Mountain State.
—A check from the government: Individuals earning up to $75,000 will receive a direct payment of $1,200. Above $75,000, the amount will scale down to zero at $99,000. Families that earn up to $150,000 will get $2,400. The payment phases down to zero at just under $200,000. Families will receive an additional $500 per child.
West Virginians on Social Security who don’t make enough to file a tax return will receive the full $1,200 automatically. Individuals on Social Security disability who have no income are eligible, but they may have to file some additional paperwork.
—Unemployment: The bill adds 13 weeks onto the existing 26 weeks of unemployment, and there is a significant bump in benefits. Individuals will receive an additional $600 a week for 16 of the 39 weeks. That will more than double the normal payment for most unemployed West Virginians during the enhanced four-month period.
There could be even more money on the way. Republicans and Democrats in Washington are talking about possibly extending the time period for the $600-a-week boost in a future stimulus bill.
—Small business help: The legislation pumps $350 billion into the Small Business Administration. Businesses can receive loans of up to $10-million to continue operations. Those businesses will qualify for partial loan forgiveness for the money used to pay two months of wages, mortgage and utility costs. SBA approved banks will administer the loans.
Larger corporations that meet solvency standards and demonstrate their ability to make payments can qualify for loans. The bill includes significant oversight to avoid some of the abuses that occurred during the Wall Street bailout.
—Healthcare help: Many West Virginia hospitals were struggling financially before the pandemic and now they have lost revenue by delaying elective procedures. The bill includes $100 billon for hospitals and healthcare providers to cover COVID-19 related expenses.
Providers will get a two-percent bump on Medicare reimbursements and hospitals will get 20 percent more for COVID-19 patients on Medicare. Hospitals will also be able to get an advance to future Medicare payments to help their current cash flow.
—State and local government help: State and local government resources are being strained to cope with the virus. They will receive reimbursement money from Washington for pandemic-related expenses. It’s estimated that West Virginia could receive as much $1.25 billion to divide up among state, county and municipal governments for their expenses.
The bill is being called a stimulus package, but it’s more of a lifeline designed to help individuals, businesses and institutions stay on their feet until the worst of the pandemic is over.