By Nora OBrien-Suric, PhD
The world is facing a number of unprecedented challenges in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. Many nonprofit and community-based organizations, in our region and across the country, are struggling with financial and workforce capacity issues as they continue meeting the needs of the people they serve. This situation illustrates how vital these organizations are to the health of our community, and how important it is to ensure they are fully funded and supported, whether during a crisis or in “normal” times.
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve, the response across all sectors will continue as well. At the Health Foundation, we remain committed to engaging with this response in every way we can, including advocating for legislation to help strengthen the organizations that are dedicated to improving the health of people in our region.
Below, we highlight some recent pieces of legislation that could be key to ensuring nonprofits and community-based organizations are able to meet the needs of the people they serve—not just during these extraordinary times, but for the foreseeable future.
Celebrating the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act
On March 25, President Trump signed into law HR4334, the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020.
The law reauthorizes critical Older Americans Act (OAA) programs through 2024. First passed in 1965, the OAA supports and funds a variety of services that enable millions of older Americans to live independent, healthier lives at home. Services supported by the OAA include congregate and home-delivered meals, case management, transportation services, employment and volunteer programs, adult day care, centers and activities for older adults, legal support, health promotion, and disease prevention. The OAA also helps fund programs and support services for family caregivers.
Many community-based organizations that serve older adults and caregivers are facing significant strain in responding to COVID-19, so funding provided through the OAA is more important than ever during these uncertain times. We applaud our lawmakers for this bipartisan support of the OAA reauthorization. Learn more about the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
How the CARES Act may help nonprofits
On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act was signed into law. This expansive piece of legislation aims to provide significant support to a number of sectors including businesses, hospitals, schools and social support programs.
Some nonprofits may be eligible to receive financial assistance as part of the new law, including:
- Small business loans or economic injury disaster loans
- Reimbursements for some costs of providing unemployment benefits to laid-off staff
- Payroll tax credits
Other provisions in the bill that may help nonprofits include a charitable giving incentive; amendments to paid leave costs; and a large infusion of funds to sectors including hospitals and education.
This is complex legislation and we encourage nonprofits to explore thoroughly whether they would benefit from these funding opportunities.
Here are some additional helpful resources to learn more about the CARES Act’s impact on nonprofits:
- Learn more about the legislation in this summary provided by the National Council of Nonprofits.
- Manatt, Phelps and Phillips LLP shared this comprehensive overview of healthcare provisions in the new law. Their overview includes information on how the CARES Act will attempt to address health system capacity issues, supply shortages and Medicare and Medicaid home health services, among many other provisions.
- Independent Sector, a national membership organization for the charitable community, has a helpful overview of how to apply for nonprofit relief funds. Their information is broken down into audience: for individuals, small nonprofits, and larger nonprofits. They will also be hosting an informational webinar on navigating the CARES Act on Thursday, April 2.
- The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities has created a set of resources for community-based human services organizations dealing with COVID-19, including a CARES Act summary.
- ZERO to THREE shared this analysis of how the CARES Act can affect organizations serving the needs of families and young children.
- Arent Fox provided an overview of the act’s Paycheck Protection Program. The program “provides short-term cash flow assistance to small businesses and other eligible entities to help these businesses and their employees deal with the immediate economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
During these crucial times, we will continue to advocate for legislative and regulatory efforts that can improve the health of our community. This is just one way we pursue our mission to improve the health and health care of people in western and central New York.