Written by Michael Goot in The Post-Star on April 13, 2020

More funding for a program to allow small businesses to retain workers and to help hospitals to fight COVID-19 should be including in the next federal legislative relief package, according to U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik.

Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, said she anticipates there would be additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program in a fourth federal stimulus package.

“It is clear there is a tremendous amount of interest in that given the number of small businesses facing challenges,” she said during a teleconference with the local media last week.

The program provides funding to businesses that do not have to be paid back as long as the money is used to maintain staff or pay rent or other expenses.

In addition, Stefanik has received clarification from the U.S. Department of the Treasury that seasonal businesses are eligible to apply for these loans. Some of these businesses were not in operation when the closure orders hit because they had not opened for the year.

Health care funding

Stefanik said she believes there will be additional funding for hospitals and community health centers in the next legislative package.

Stefanik on Monday signed onto a bipartisan letter to House leadership requesting $7.6 billion in funding for community health centers to provide services to medically underserved communities in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding would be used to detect, prevent and diagnosis COVID-19, stabilize essential health services and address revenue losses to help community health centers stay open, according to a news release from Stefanik on Monday.

“Our North Country Community Health Centers are the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak in some of our most vulnerable communities,” Stefanik said in a news release. “It is essential that we provide our health care workers and their facilities with equipment and supplies to continue to work safely, but also with funding to keep their doors open to their surrounding communities.”

Stefanik and other members of the state’s congressional delegation are asking that the Department of Health and Human Services reconsider its decision to allocate hospital funding based upon rates of Medicare payments. The lawmakers say more resources should be directed to New York because of the impact of COVID-19.

Stefanik said in another teleconference hosted by the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce last Wednesday that the federal government needs to step up to pay for medical tests and other costs incurred by people related to the novel coronavirus.

“My priority is making sure that people are not forced to pay out of pocket,” she said.

There should also be relief for dairy farmers and other agricultural workers in the next funding package, according to Stefanik.

Stefanik said previously that she supported bills to provide price floors for farmers and to increase payments per hundredweight if farmers voluntarily produce less milk.

Reach Michael Goot at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

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