Golden Calls for More Aid for Maine Small Businesses, Workers, and Rural Hospitals
WASHINGTON — Today, Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) laid out the actions he believes Congress must take to continue to address the public health and economic impacts of the coronavirus. In a letter to congressional leaders, Golden put forward specific policy proposals that should be included in future legislation.
“Demand for small business relief is soaring, unemployment is rising at historic levels, and rural health care facilities in Maine are preparing for a potential influx of patients while grappling with disappearing revenue,”said Golden. “Congress needs to act to meet the needs of our hospitals, businesses, and constituents during these difficult times.”
In his letter, Golden makes the case for congressional action to:
Dedicate funding to rural health care facilities as they fight the coronavirus
Rural health care facilities are facing severe financial challenges as they follow CMS and CDC guidelines to address the coronavirus and cut back on the elective and preventive procedures that help pay their bills. As a result, many are cutting hours and pay for staff, and facing impossible decisions between funding priorities. Congress did not set aside funding specifically for rural hospitals in its previous coronavirus legislation, the CARES Act.
Golden proposes providing additional funding to rural facilities through the Health Resources and Services Administration Rural Health account. He also proposes changing the formula for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to allocate at least 20 percent of the funding for that program to rural facilities.
Increase relief for small businesses by an additional $349 Billion
It’s clear that the demand for small business relief will quickly outstrip the resources that Congress has dedicated to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and other SBA programs. Over 1,800 Maine small businesses have already been approved for more than $510 million in forgivable loans through PPP. In just the first four days of the program, applications to Bank of America alone accounted for 10% of the funding allotted. Golden believes that the administration’s request for an additional $250 billion for the programs will not be sufficient to meet ongoing demand for the program.
Golden proposes doubling what Congress appropriated for small businesses in the CARES Act. In order to better support Maine small businesses, Golden requests that House leaders push for a portion of the new funds to be set aside for lenders serving rural small businesses. Finally, he warns that economic disruptions may linger and that Congress should be prepared to extend the PPP accordingly.
Continue direct payments to low- and middle-income Americans and extend enhanced unemployment insurance
The financial hardship for many Maine families is just beginning. Thousands of workers will, through no fault of their own, have no way to pay their bills and put food on their table.
Golden proposes a second round of direct relief payments to every low-income and working-class American of at least $1,200. He also suggests Congress provide resources for the Treasury Department to speed the disbursement of mailed payments. Lastly, Golden proposes Congress consider an automatic trigger to continue payments if economic conditions continue to worsen.
Finally, Golden proposes an extension of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation long enough for the job market to recover. The program is currently set to sunset on July 31.
Read a copy of Golden’s letter here.