News From Congressman Ben Cline
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Sixth District Perspectives
with Congressman Ben Cline

Coronavirus Update

     With the recent passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, I wanted to take a moment to provide you with some information on some specific sections of the bill, including the economic stimulus checks and changes to Medicare and Medicaid, as well as provide you with information on how to protect yourself from scams during this difficult time.

Medicare and Medicaid:

  • Expanded Option for Medicare Accelerated Payments: Eligibility for Medicare accelerated payments will be expanded to critical access hospitals, children’s hospitals, and cancer hospitals. These providers, along with acute care hospitals, may request accelerated payments that cover a time period of up to six months.
  • Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System (PPS) Add-on Payment: During the emergency period, the CARES Act provides a 20 percent add-on to the Diagnosis Related Group rate for patients with COVID-19. This add-on will apply to patients treated at rural and urban inpatient PPS hospitals to address the high costs associated with COVID-19 patient care.

Telehealth Access:

  • Additional Funding for Telehealth: The legislation provides $200 million to the Federal Communications Commission to enable provision of telehealth services.
  • Improved Medicare Beneficiary Access to Telehealth: The legislation waives the requirement that a provider or others in their group must have treated the patient in the past three years to provide them with a telehealth service during the ongoing public health emergency.
  • Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) as Distant Sites: The legislation allows RHCs and FQHCs to serve as distant sites to provide telehealth services to patients in their homes and other eligible locations during a national emergency.
  • Telehealth for Hospice Recertification: Hospice recertifications will be able to be completed via telehealth, rather than a face-to-face visit, during the emergency period. In addition to physicians, nurse practitioners will be able to complete the recertification.
  • Telehealth for Home Dialysis: The CARES Act also reduces requirements during the COVID-19 emergency that pertain to face-to-face evaluations for home dialysis patients.   
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     On top of injecting funding into the economy to help American small businesses and industries, the CARES Act also provides stimulus checks to every American to keep individuals and families afloat as they cope with the effects of the crisis on both their health and economic security. The full rebate amounts are $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. Rebate payments start to phase out at the thresholds of $75,000 single, $112,500 head of household, and $150,000 married. An adult who receives Social Security income can get the full $1,200 stimulus amount, as long as they are not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. 

     If you are not normally required to file a tax return, then you do not need to file one now in order to get a stimulus check. The government will use the information from your Social Security forms to determine how much you qualify for and where to send your payment. If the IRS has your direct deposit information on file, the payment will be sent straight to that account. If not, a physical check will be delivered to your last-known mailing address. You do not need to take any action. To learn more about the stimulus payments, please visit irs.gov/coronavirus.

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     Finally, please be aware that scammers are taking advantage of the fears surrounding coronavirus. There have been reports of scammers posing as IRS agents claiming to     need your personal information to process the stimulus checks authorized by the CARES Act. As previously mentioned, you do not need to take any action to receive the stimulus check. Several tips to protecting your information include:

  • Secure your accounts: Use multifactor authentication everywhere, especially with banks, phone and email providers. This extra layer of security helps keep you safe.
  • Stay vigilant: Scammers will contact you by phone, email, or text offering products, services, or humanitarian opportunities. They often pose as credible companies “phishing” for login or personal information.
  • Monitor your accounts: Stay close to your personal bank accounts, report suspicious behavior, and respond to alerts.
  • Use trusted Wi-Fi networks: As more people transition to work from home, ensuring your Wi-Fi network is password protected is critical to safeguarding your information.
  • Be informed: Visit gov/coronavirus to learn more about what the Federal Trade Commission is doing and what you can do to protect yourself from scams.
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     Rest assured, I will continue to keep you informed, monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country, and work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this disease.

     If you experience symptoms or have been exposed to someone recently diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Resources:

Resources for Business:

Other:

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“Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” ~ Matthew 28: 5-6

     Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431. 

     For the latest updates from Washington, please follow my social media accounts: FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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