IN THE LOOP
The news you need to know this week
Welcome to the latest edition of our update on the news you need to know and how it affects you and the communities we serve. These emails feature important updates, and you can sign up below! As always, thank you for your support of APLA Health, and please share this with others who may be interested.
Important Updates about COVID-19 (Coronavirus), APLA Health, State and Local Resources and Financial Assistance for People in Need
APLA Health’s Government Affairs Division is collaborating with federal, state and local legislative offices, and a broad range of advocacy organizations, to call attention to the needs of the people we serve through our health centers and HIV service locations, including low-income individuals, the LGBTQ community, and people living with and vulnerable to HIV.
The massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package — The CARES Act — was signed by the President last week and includes emergency funding for large and small businesses, non-profits, community health centers, hospitals, state and local governments, safety net programs and more (click here for a summary). It includes some $90 million in new funding for the Ryan White Program and $65 million for Housing Opportunities for People Living with AIDS (HOPWA).
Direct Payments to Individuals
The CARES Act also includes all-important funding for many individuals impacted by the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, including people with disabilities and those who have lost their jobs and are now filing for unemployment.
For most Americans, the bill includes a one-time payment of $1,200 to all U.S. residents with a working Social Security number and adjusted gross incomes under $75,000 based on 2019 or 2018 tax returns. The amounts and income are doubled for couples, and each dependent child will receive $500. People who report incomes between $75,000 and $99,000 will receive smaller amounts. Where possible, the money will be deposited directly into bank accounts.
These one-time payments will also go to people on Social Security and veteran’s benefits, including people with disabilities and those collecting Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you are in that category and did not file income tax, the government will rely on your Social Security 1099 tax documents.
If you are on SSI or veterans benefits and did not get a 1099 tax form, you may be required to file a simplified tax return to get your stimulus check. However, advocates and members of Congress are pushing the government to get rid of this requirement. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities is circulating a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Commissioner of Social Security requesting a change in this requirement. APLA Health has signed onto the letter. Your organization can sign on here. The deadline is noon Friday, April 3.
The Internal Revenue Service meanwhile says that it will issue guidelines in the near future if people need to file a simplified tax form to get their stimulus payment. More information is available here. But stay tuned. APLA Health will broadcast any changes to the existing policy.
Expanded Unemployment Insurance
The CARES Act provides an estimated $260 billion in enhanced and expanded unemployment insurance. The bill provides a $600 weekly bonus for people who are eligible for unemployment. The money will be added onto the weekly unemployment benefit every week for four months. Unemployment in California ranges from $40 to $450 weekly, depending on your wages. Therefore, if your unemployment is $100 a week, you will receive $700 with the supplement.
The Cares Act also provides an additional 13 weeks of state unemployment insurance, which will become available after someone exhausts all their regular benefits. The unemployment benefits were also broadened to include freelancers, furloughed employees, and gig workers such as rideshare drivers.
The bill waives the week-long wait period to collect unemployment as well as the look-for-work requirement for people who are laid off but expect to return to work for the same employer when businesses reopen. More information is available here.
The California Economic Development Department says that the quickest way to file for unemployment is online. Please see EDD’s website for more information for filing for unemployment, as well as for State Disability Insurance if you are ill or quarantined, on paid family leave, and more.
What’s Happening in Sacramento
The California Legislature is on recess until April 13th (and perhaps longer), but elected officials and state agencies have been hard at work responding to COVID-19. Here are some important developments you may have missed during the daily onslaught of news:
- Coronavirus Testing and Treatment – Medi-Cal and commercial health plans in California are required to cover the entire cost of coronavirus testing and screening. Uninsured individuals can also access free testing at community health centers like APLA Health (please call ahead if you have flu-like symptoms or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19).
- Health Coverage Enrollment – If you don’t have health coverage, you may be able to enroll in Medi-Cal or Covered California. Medi-Cal enrollment is open year-round. Covered California is open for special enrollment through June 30, 2020. Learn more about your coverage options here.
- Maintaining Your Medication Supply – For Medi-Cal and most other health plans, you can get at least a 90-day supply and have your prescription drugs mailed to you if you do not want to go to the pharmacy.
- For Medi-Cal and CalFresh Recipients – Governor Newsom issued an executive order to ensure that health care, food assistance, and other vital services continue during the COVID-19 outbreak. The order waives eligibility re-determinations for 90 days for participants in Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKS, In-Home Supportive Services, and cash assistance for immigrants.
- For People Living with HIV – The Office of AIDS developed a fact sheet with information about the impact of COVID-19 on people living with HIV. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also released interim guidance for COVID-19 and people living with HIV.
- For ADAP and PrEP-AP Clients – The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and PrEP-Assistance Program (PrEP-AP) are extending eligibility to June 30, 2020 for all clients whose eligibility expired, or will expire, between March 1, 2020 and June 29, 2020. This extension will be done automatically. New or lapsed clients can now enroll over the phone with their enrollment worker or by calling 844-421-7050.
We know things are changing fast and new information is released daily. California recently created a website with the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. The Health Consumer Alliance also created a website with important health care updates about COVID-19.
APLA Health Services and Hours
Per the recommendations of the CDC, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) and other authorities, critical APLA Health services remain open to serve patients and clients. We will provide weekly updates to our schedule. Our current services include:
- Medical Care: All APLA Health sites are open, but we request that clients only come in for services that cannot safely be postponed. Please call before coming in.
- Dental Care: Wilshire Dental Clinic is open for emergency services only.
- Behavioral Health Care: Services are available for clients of all sites via telephone or telehealth appointments only.
- Vance North Necessities of Life Program (NOLP): Open in-person at all sites
- Emergency Housing: Services available in-person at the David Geffen Center only
- Medical Transportation Services: Available at the David Geffen Center only
- HIV Testing and STD Screening: Available at all locations for individuals who have symptoms or who have had a high-risk exposure
All other APLA Health services and programs remain closed at this time. You can find out more, including phone numbers and clinic hours at aplahealth.org/coronavirus.
Los Angeles County Resources for COVID-19
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and many County departments are providing timely information on COVID-19. Please refer to the following links for more information:
- LA County Department of Public Health: publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus
- LA County Department of Health Care Services: dhs.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dhs/covid19
- LA County Department of Mental Health: dmh.lacounty.gov/covid-19-information
- LA County Board of Supervisors: lacounty.gov/covid19
- LA County COVID-19 Data Dashboards: covid19.lacounty.gov/dashboards
- LA County Commission on HIV: hiv.lacounty.gov/COVID-19
Stay in the loop!
We will send you regular updates on issues and policies affecting the LGBT and/or HIV communities and urge you to call or e-mail your representatives about key political activity at the local, state, and federal levels.