The American Rescue Plan has been passed by the House of Representatives and Congress. The package now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for final approval. This relief has come at a critical moment as our nation works to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and empower businesses and families to get back on their feet.
What you can expect over the next few months as the relief from this package works its way into our community:
- Direct Payments: Individuals making less than $75,000 per year and couples making less than $150,000 will be eligible for $1,400 checks per person following the $600 down payment from December.
- Extending Unemployment Benefits: The American Rescue Plan extends access to unemployment benefits, including the PUA program that provides benefits to self-employed workers, through September 6th for workers laid off as a result of the pandemic. It also exempts up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 from federal income taxes for households making less than $150,000.
- Support for Small Businesses: The American Rescue Plan increases funding for the successful Paycheck Protection Program and expands eligibility for participation in it. It also creates a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund to offer assistance to restaurants and bars with 20 or fewer locations that have been hit hard by the pandemic.
- Strengthened Access to Health Coverage: For workers receiving unemployment, the relief package provides a 100 percent subsidy if they choose to use COBRA to continue their existing employer-sponsored health coverage. It also significantly expands the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act marketplace to cover more middle-class families working to get back on their feet.
- National Plan to Increase Vaccinations: The American Rescue Plan Provides more than $20 billion to establish a National COVID-19 Vaccination Program and improve the administration and distribution of vaccines, including allocating funds for FEMA vaccination sites across the country and strengthening the CDC’s ability to promote, distribute, monitor, and track COVID-19 vaccines.
- Food Assistance: Families experiencing or on the verge of hunger will benefit from key investments in SNAP, WIC, Pandemic EBT, and child nutrition programs, including an extension of the maximum SNAP benefit increase to 15 percent.
- Housing Assistance: Massachusetts will receive more than $360 million in emergency rental assistance funding to help individuals and families struggling to keep a roof over their heads. The package also provides billions more in mortgage and utility bill assistance.
- Expanded Child Tax Credit: In a huge victory for families, the American Rescue Plan makes the child tax credit fully refundable for 2021 and increases the annual amount to $3,000 per child and $3,600 for a child under the age of 6. This will ensure that 27 million American children receive the full value of the tax credit and cut our nation’s child poverty rate in half.
- Direct Assistance to Vulnerable Families: Families with who are especially at risk of continued financial harm from the pandemic will be eligible for additional cash assistance from a newly established Pandemic Emergency Fund.
- Reopening Schools: To support efforts to safely reopen elementary and secondary schools, the American Rescue Plan will deliver more than $1.8 billion to Massachusetts K-12 schools so they can work with public health experts to ensure the safe return of students and educators to in-person learning.
- Access to Child Care: To rescue our child care system from the brink of collapse, the relief package will invest $512 million in Massachusetts child care providers to ensure parents have access to these critical facilities as they return to work. It will also provide another $13.6 million in support for Head Start programs throughout the Commonwealth.
- Delivering for Veterans: This legislation ensures veterans won’t have any copays or cost-sharing retroactive to April 2020 for preventative treatment related to COVID-19, and it provides robust funding to help the VA to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the benefits claims and appeals backlog.
Learn more here.