WASHINGTON — Two weeks ago, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act is providing unprecedented resources to our national health care system and our economy to help them respond to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Not only will these resources help urban areas, but the measure is also designed to help rural businesses and communities in Ohio as well.
Specifically, the CARES Act rescue package will help rural Ohio during the coronavirus pandemic by supporting rural families
Supporting Ohio families
- The government is mailing checks of $1,200 for individuals making less than $75,000 per year, with lesser amounts sent to individuals making up to $99,000 per year.
- Couples making less than $150,000 will receive $2,400, with lesser amounts sent to couples making up to $198,000 per year.
- Families with children would be eligible for an additional $500 per child.
- This means the average family of four will receive approximately $3,400 through the CARES Act.
- It includes a four-month, historic increase in unemployment insurance benefits to help Ohioans make ends meet during this difficult time.
- The CARES Act provides approximately $250 billion so state unemployment programs can offer full wage replacement to low- and medium-income individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
- For the first time, the bill expands unemployment insurance benefit eligibility to cover most self-employed individuals, government workers, and nonprofit employees.
- It also covers an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits on top of what states already provide, and offers an additional 13 weeks of benefits.
- And it provides $4.5 billion to the state of Ohio and $150 billion overall to support states and local governments impacted by the coronavirus to ensure they can continue to provide basic services for their citizens.
Supporting Ohio farmers
- CARES provides $350 billion in low-interest Paycheck Protection Program loans for companies with under 500 employees through the Small Business Administration, including farmers.
- These companies are eligible to receive up to $10 million under this program.
- Importantly, if the loan is used for payroll, rent, or mortgage payments, it is completely forgiven, effectively making it a grant.
- The application for borrowers can be found HERE.
- CARES also appropriates a separate $9.5 billion to support agriculture producers impacted by the coronavirus, including specialty crop producers and livestock farmers.
- CARES provides $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation’s borrowing authority.
- This will enable the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to better support producers.
- CARES provides an additional $450 million for the emergency food assistance program (TEFAP), on top of the $400 million provided in the Phase II bill, for USDA to purchase food to distribute to foodbanks and local organizations to help feed those in need.
Supporting rural communities
- CARES provides accelerated payment opportunities, i.e. loans from Medicare, for hospitals supporting vulnerable populations.
- This will help children’s hospitals, rural hospitals, and specialty cancer hospitals like Ohio State’s The James maintain cash flows while they voluntarily suspend elective procedures to conserve personal protective equipment for providers treating COVID-19 patients.
Rural broadband expansion
$100 million in ReConnect grants are included to promote expanded network coverage so rural communities can continue to work even when under shelter-in-place orders.
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will administer a $200 million telehealth program to ensure rural communities have access to quality health care services for the duration of this crisis