American Companies Are Stepping Up To The Plate During Coronavirus

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, April 6th, 2020, 11:30 AM PERMALINK

In response to the Coronavirus health crisis, American businesses are working to ensure the American people obtain basic necessities and critical medical supplies.

All across the country, companies large and small are donating supplies and retrofitting facilities to produce masks, ventilators, and other medical equipment. The healthcare industry is working around the clock at a record pace to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and ensure Americans are getting the care they need. Technology companies are making it possible for millions of workers to videoconference and work remotely, as well as providing critical support for frontline healthcare workers. 

Despite the extreme economic hardships that the Coronavirus has brought, the private sector is working hard to help Americans in need.

The Healthcare Industry Is Working Overtime to Ensure Americans Are Getting Care

Healthcare companies are working at record pace to develop a Coronavirus vaccine and manufacturers already have numerous clinical trials underway to develop treatments. In the meantime, pharmaceutical companies are providing financial support and donating supplies to patients and organizations around the world. For example:

  • Bristol Myers Squibb: providing financial support to healthcare workers, patient advocacy organizations, and community-based organizations that serve vulnerable populations.

  • GlaxoSmithKline: donating surplus reagents to countries to support diagnostic testing as well as allowing employees with medical expertise to provide support to frontline healthcare workers and governments.

  • Johnson and Johnson: over $3.7 million donated in personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers.

  • Merck: over 800,000 masks donated for healthcare workers in New York and New Jersey.   

Health plans are also stepping up to ensure American patients don’t have to worry about paying for Coronavirus-related health expenses. For instance: 

  • Aetna: waiving co-pays for all diagnostic COVID-19 testing. 

  • Cigna: covering all costs related to COVID-19 treatment. Previously, the carrier announced that they would cover all costs related to Coronavirus testing.

  • Humana: covering COVID-19 testing as well as providing financial and administrative relief for healthcare providers.

The response of the U.S. healthcare industry to the Coronavirus stands in stark contrast to countries with government-run healthcare that are buckling under the strain of unprecedented demand. If anything, the response of single-payer countries to this crisis shows the fatal flaws of the so-called “Medicare for All” model. 

Companies Are Retrofitting Facilities and Donating Supplies

All across the country, companies that don’t normally produce medical supplies are retrofitting facilities to produce masks, ventilators, and other equipment necessary to fight COVID-19. Some companies are donating millions of masks globally to frontline healthcare workers in need. Examples include:

  • Amazon has added an extra 100,000 jobs to help millions of Americans get the household supplies and groceries they need from the safety of their homes. Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos also made a $100 million donation to Feeding America, the largest American nonprofit focused on food security. 

  • Anheuser-Busch, an American brewery, is beginning to produce and distribute bottles of hand sanitizer.

  • Apple will produce 1 million face shields per week for medical workers. Apple has also donated 20 million N95 masks to governments and hospitals. 

  • Ford is beginning to build ventilators. Ford joined with GE Healthcare to build ventilators. Together, these companies plan to produce 50,000 ventilators in 100 days.

  • General Motors is beginning to build ventilators. GM has partnered with Ventec Life Systems, and expects to help the company produce 10,000 ventilators a month using a retrofitted facility in Indiana.

  • SoftBank, a Japanese holding company, is donating 1.4 million respirators to the state of New York.

Local companies and small businesses are also stepping in by recruiting volunteers to produce masks and other equipment:

  • Hickey Freeman, a clothing retailer in Rochester, New York, has dedicated its operations to producing masks for local hospitals and beyond. More than 7,000 volunteers have contacted the company asking to help, and they soon will be able to produce hundreds of thousands of masks a week.

  • iPromo, a promotional materials company in Chicago, Illinois, is using its sourcing relationships in China to buy masks and other medical supplies. In just five days, the company leveraged these relationships into a new platform called iHealth, where hospitals and pharmacies can order supplies.

  • Shine Distillery and Grill, a restaurant in Portland, Oregon, is producing hand sanitizer from alcohol usually used to make vodka and other spirits.

Technology Companies Are Keeping Americans Connected More Than Ever

Technology companies are also committing an unprecedented amount of money and computing resources towards keeping the medical supply chain afloat. Wireline and wireless broadband networks are responding to Covid-19 by keeping the networks running smoothly, supporting displaced customers, and committing valuable resources to the fight against the virus.

Industry partners IBM, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard have collaborated to create the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, a project that will commit “an unprecedented amount of computing power—16 systems with more than 330 petaflops, 775,000 CPU cores, 34,000 GPUs, and counting — to help researchers everywhere better understand COVID-19, its treatments and potential cures.”

Technology companies are also helping ordinary Americans get through this crisis by waiving late fees, providing unlimited data for users, and helping employees stay afloat with expanded compensation programs. Examples include: 

  • AT&T: waiving late fees and suspending termination of services for customers unable to pay bills due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

  • Comcast: providing unlimited data to customers for no extra charge. Comcast is also waiving late fees and not disconnecting service for customers unable to pay their bills. 

  • Charter: offering free Spectrum internet and WiFi access for 60 days to households with K-12 or college students, as well as educators. Charter will not disconnect customers unable to pay their bills. 

  • Verizon: implementing an enhanced compensation program for employees who need to work with customers in person during the pandemic. Verizon is also waiving late fees and cancelations for customers 

  • T-Mobile: providing 60 days of unlimited data to all mobile customers, dedicating more resources to low-income customers, and launching a $15/month plan to lower costs for consumers. 

[See also: Tech & Telecom Networks Support America through COVID-19 via Digital Liberty] 

Despite the unprecedented economic calamity that the Coronavirus pandemic has caused, businesses large and small are pitching in to help get the United States through this crisis.  

Photo Credit: Adam


GOP Tax Cuts Help Low Income Areas Across the Country

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Posted by John Kartch on Sunday, April 5th, 2020, 9:00 PM PERMALINK

Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted by Congressional Republicans and President Trump, new businesses are opening in Opportunity Zones created by the law, bringing new jobs and services to economically distressed areas.

Listed below are 61 examples of Opportunity Zones good news.  (If you know of any additions to this list, please send to jkartch@atr.org)

2nd South Market (Twin Falls, Idaho) -- A food hall is opening because of the TCJA Opportunity Zone program, and is slated to create new jobs:

One of the nation’s fastest-growing trends, food halls, is coming to Twin Falls. 2nd South Market, slated to open this summer, will be housed in the historic 1926 downtown Twin Falls building formerly occupied by the Salvation Army. 2ndSouth Market will be the first Opportunity Zone project to open in Idaho and the state’s third Opportunity Zone investment.

Opportunity Zones were established in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to encourage long-term investment in low-income communities through tax breaks.

Kelsar Property owners Dave and Lisa Buddecke are gutting and remodeling the 94-year-old building to expose original wood ceilings/trusses, windows and doors. At Second Avenue South and Hansen Street, the 13,000-square-foot indoor area will house several food vendors in a large open space concept. The 14,700-square-foot outdoor fenced space will be open during summer and fall for additional outdoor seating, private events, open-air markets and corn hole games. A stage is planned for live music and other amenities. -- February 27, 2020 Twin Falls Times-News article

Agatha (Johnson City, Tennessee) -- An Apple app's office is moving to the city, and will be located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

According to the Mastered in Tennessee website, there are currently four Opportunity Zone projects in the Tri-Cities area. The projects, business type, and value are:

...

Agatha – Johnson City – $200,000. The firm’s Twitter tag describes it as a who-done-it game where you walk (run, etc.) in real life to make progress in the game. -- November 22, 2019 DonFenley.Com article

American Life Building (Birmingham, Alabama) – The TCJA's Opportunity Zone legislation is paving the way for an empty building to be converted into housing units, some of which will be reserved for those who are unemployed or underemployed:

“A Birmingham opportunity zone project is the $24 million conversion of the 84,000-square-foot Stonewall Building, almost 40 years vacant, into the American Life Building, with 140 one and two-bedroom flats and loft-style apartments. In addition, five of the development’s units will be reserved for rental to clients of The Dannon Project, a local nonprofit that provides workforce development and other services for underemployed and unemployed residents. It is slated for completion next year.” – September 15th, 2019, Alabama (AL.com)

Appalachian Highlands Resort (Erwin, Tennessee) -- Resort is being built in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

According to the Mastered in Tennessee website, there are currently four Opportunity Zone projects in the Tri-Cities area. The projects, business type, and value are.

...

Appalachian Highlands Resort – Erwin – $8.8 million. This project is identified as a 20-acre, 871,200 sq. ft.  real estate operating business in the hospitality sector. -- November 22, 2019 DonFenley.Com article

Benson Hill Biosystems (St. Louis, Missouri) -- The company is expanding and moving headquarters in order to be located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Throughout the region, developers with projects in eligible areas, known as Opportunity Zones, are using the new tax break provision to raise more money. At the same time, those developers say, the program is helping attract new investors to St. Louis.

...

Yet right next door, the 136-room Fairfield Inn and Suites, being developed by Equis Hotels, is using an Opportunity Zone fund. In Creve Coeur’s 39 North plant science district, Larry Chapman’s Seneca Commercial Real Estate is, too, as part of the $52 million future headquarters of Benson Hill Biosystems. Lawrence Group’s City Foundry project has also used the new provision to raise capital for the Midtown entertainment and office development. -- January 11, 2020 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article

Canyon Partners Real Estate LLC and Fore Property (Orlando, Florida) -- The real estate company is building a new apartment community in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Canyon Partners Real Estate LLC and Fore Property have formed a joint venture to develop 19 South, a 384-unit apartment community here. Canyon invested $29.8 million of equity into this project, which is located within a qualified opportunity zone. Construction is slated to begin in March 2020 and achieve completion by May 2022.

A spokesperson for Fore tells GlobeSt.com that 19 South is a 4-story, wood-framed development that is LEED-designed and will feature two resort-style courtyard pools, a modern arcade and gaming area, a 24-hour fitness center, an outdoor park area, as well as a fitness trail. -- January 23, 2020 GlobeSt.Com article

Capital Square (Richmond, Virginia) -- The company invested in a 350-unit multifamily community:

"RICHMOND, VA - Capital Square, a leading sponsor of tax-advantaged real estate investments, announced the launch of CSRA/GS Opportunity Zone V, LLC. The project-specific opportunity zone fund is raising capital to develop 1601 Roseneath Road, a 350-unit multifamily community with ground-floor retail space, in the Scott's Addition designated opportunity zone in Richmond, Virginia. CSRA/GS Opportunity Zone V, LLC seeks to raise $32,396,000 in equity from accredited investors.  "Capital Square is thrilled to enter this joint venture with Greystar Real Estate Partners to develop a Class A, mixed-use multifamily community in Scott's Addition," said Louis Rogers, founder and chief executive officer. "Greystar is the largest property manager in the nation as well as a top 10 builder and owner of apartment communities." -- March 4, 2020 MutltifamilyBiz article

Capital Square (Charleston, South Carolina) -- The real estate firm will be building an apartment complex in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

National real estate firm Capital Square has announced the launch of CSRA Opportunity Zone Fund IV. The project-specific opportunity zone fund is raising capital to develop 529 King Street, a 50-unit, luxury apartment hotel and retail property within a designated opportunity zone in Charleston’s historic King Street corridor.

The fund seeks to raise $7.7 million in equity from investors and has a minimum investment of $100,000. Plans for the development include a five-story structure with 50 apartment hotel units, 4,218 square feet of street-level retail space, a rooftop lounge open to the public and a fitness center, library and co-working space on each floor.

The project will be co-developed with development, management, hospitality and design firm the Method Company. The finished property will operate under Method’s ROOST Apartment Hotel brand. -- January 21, 2020 Connect Atlanta article

Claiborne County, Mississippi -- Over 30,000 jobs are coming to to the Mississippi county because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A stretch of economic development on the verge of breaking in Claiborne County could eventually create more than twice as many jobs than the counties current population.

In 2017 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress and signed by President Trump low income urban and rural areas could receive special attention for investors and businesses to develop and create jobs and get federal tax deductions. Now Claiborne County is next in line.

Out of 100 areas declared “opportunity zones”, Claiborne County is taking advantage to seek big changes.

….

Leading the charge to be the first to move in is Houston Engineering Services Company, (HESCO)looking to bring the liquidating natural gas (LNG) business along the Mississippi River.

“It’s taking natural gas and liquefying it to below -260 degrees Fahrenheit,” HESCO CEO Monte Burton stated. “Allowing it to be turned into a liquid state which allows it to be transported.”

Burton expects to have his company break ground on building the plant west of Alcorn State by January requiring up to 1,000 construction jobs alone. But many question if the community can handle that production.

..

Following HESCO the County Chamber expect more plants and companies to follow totaling 6400 acres of industrial space filled around the southwestern Claiborne County region estimating 30,000 new jobs when finished. -- August 16, 2019 WJTV Article

Catalyst Opportunity Funds (Bozeman, Montana) -- The company is investing in a workforce-attainable apartment complex:

Catalyst Opportunity Funds has launched its first three investments. The projects are located in Salt Lake City and Bozeman, Montana, and represent a total investment of $28 million. The projects include Industry SLC and Pickle and Hide in Salt Lake City, which will transform outdated industrial properties into creative office and retail, and in Bozeman, Catalyst is investing in a 60-unit workforce-attainable apartment complex.

“We positioned the fund to be an impact investment fund that is focused on getting market-rate or even better than market-rate returns for investors while identifying opportunities where our investment can have an impact in the low-income communities where we are investing,” Jeremy Keele, managing partner at Catalyst, tells GlobeSt.com. “The thesis is to identify markets throughout the country that have historically been under invested and finding high-impact projects that are supported by the local community.”

All of the projects will work to revitalize blighted communities, ensuring the social impact component of the opportunity zone legislation is met. “The first three projects are all in the mountain west, and all three really focused on workforce affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization,” says Keele. “We are taking dilapidated, rundown, industrial neighborhoods and working with sponsors that know the neighborhoods well to create product that is geared toward bringing the neighborhood back to life through investment and infrastructure.” -- February 10, 2020 GlobeSt.Com article

Central Southwest Development LLC (Dallas, Texas) -- The company is building a storage unit in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

One of Dallas’ first Opportunity Zone developments will be a new self-storage center west of downtown Dallas.

Central Southwest Texas Development LLC is building the project on Lone Star Drive near Interstate 30 in West Dallas. The 141,950-square-foot self-storage center will be on a 2.4-acre site that is in one of the more than a dozen federally designated Dallas Opportunity Zones that qualify for special tax breaks.

New businesses and investments in the targeted census tracts get deferred capital gains and other beneficial tax treatment. -- November 13, 2019 Dallas Morning News article

Clay Street Commons (Nashville, Tennessee) -- The group is building 60 apartments along with retail space, in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A trio of developers has paid $2.3 million for land in North Nashville, where they aim to build 60 apartments and some retail space.

The group, operating as Clay Street Commons LLC, now owns a pair of roughly 0.56-acre properties on opposite sides of Ninth Avenue North, according to new public records. The land is two blocks from Buchanan Street, home to Slim & Husky's Pizza Beeria, which has become a landmark on what is one of the commercial gateways in the historically black neighborhood.

Steve Armistead, a principal in the development group, estimated the development would cost roughly $12 million. In an interview, he described two buildings that would mirror each other, on 1919 Ninth Ave. N. and 1928 Ninth Ave. N.

"We're looking to hit a price point that works with the local community and also services demand from the workforce in MetroCenter, downtown Nashville and elsewhere," Armistead said. "It brings a little density to that area, but it will be very thoughtfully done."

Armistead is a founding principal at Brentwood-based Armistead Arnold Pollard Real Estate Services LLC. In the 1990s, he was among the first to spot the potential to transform a derelict rail yard into the Gulch, which is today Nashville's most metropolitan urban neighborhood.

Others involved in the development include: Tim Morris, a principal at Academy Development Partners in the Washington, D.C., area, and Jared Bradley, who owns several Nashville companies, including The Bradley Development Group, The Bradley Projects and Certified Construction Services.

The same group is under construction on a 38-unit townhome development at 2400 21st Ave. S., named Linden Row. Unlike that project, the apartment development planned in North Nashville sits in an Opportunity Zone — which makes the developers eligible for unprecedented federal tax breaks in exchange for long-term investments in historically low-income areas.

The Opportunity Zone benefits have drawn a number of new developers into North Nashville. "This is my first time really making a full commitment to North Nashville," Armistead said.

He added that Opportunity Zone tax breaks didn't spark his group's interest. "That is not what's driving this, though it happens to be a part of it," he said. "This was really more driven by creating housing units that fall more toward the 'affordable' range. Opportunity Zones just happen to be a benefit years down the road." -- November 6, 2019 Nashville Business Journal article

Clearday Inc. (San Antonio, Texas) -- The company acquired a medical building property, which they plan to renovate and reopen, which was made possible because of the Opportunity Zone program:

"Clearday, Inc., a leading innovator in longevity care and wellness services, has made the first Opportunity Zone (OZ) investment in San Antonio District 10. With the investment, totaling a minimum of $3.2 million, Clearday has acquired and is transforming the medical building property located at 8800 Village Drive, adjacent to the Northeast Baptist Hospital campus. Upon completion of the building renovation, Clearday will consolidate its corporate headquarters – as well as those of its Memory Care America subsidiary and other affiliate businesses – at the site." -- February 21, 2020 Business Wire article

Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands) --

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced Friday that the Departments Economic Development Administration is awarding a $1.7 million grant to the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. on Saipan to assist with the construction of a new water filtration system. The EDA grant, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $431,604 in local funds and is expected to help create 370 jobs and generate $110 million in private investment.

The Trump administration is committed to helping U.S. territories recover and rebuild after natural disasters, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. These critical infrastructure improvements will support Saipan's efforts in creating new jobs and spurring economic growth." -- February 18, 2020 Trade Arabia article

Connect Outdoors, Inc. (Johnson City, Tennessee) -- An outdoor technology and analytics business is moving to the city and will be located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

According to the Mastered in Tennessee website, there are currently four Opportunity Zone projects in the Tri-Cities area. The projects, business type, and value are:

...

Connect Outdoors, Inc. – Johnson City – $1 million. This operating business is in the outdoor recreation, technology, and analytics sector. The firm’s website announces itself and an online platform connection user to the outdoors by using data, technology and unique experiences. -- Nov. 22, 2019, DonFenly.Com Article.

Crown Royal Developers (Van Nuys, California) -- The developer is building an apartment complex for extremely low-income residents located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Local firm Crown Royal Developers has filed plans for a 71-unit apartment complex in Van Nuys, with eight units set aside for extremely low-income residents.

The Beverly Hills-based company wants to build the 78-foot complex at 14518-14526 Erwin Street, just west of Van Nuys Boulevard, according to plans filed with the Los Angeles City Planning Department. The site is located in a federal Opportunity Zone, which provides tax incentives for long-term investors who pour money into projects in distressed areas. The Treasury Department just opened an investigation into the program, following media stories that raised questions about who was benefiting from the program.

Crown filed its plans with Santa Monica-based architecture firm Minarc through an LLC. The signatory is Asaf Glazer, president of Crown Royal Developers.

Van Nuys has seen some activity in the affordable housing arena lately. In September, prolific affordable housing developer Skid Row Housing Trust announced plans to expand into Van Nuys, with a 64-unit apartment building for low-income or very low-income tenants.

California and L.A. in particular continue to grapple with the lack of affordable housing. Gov. Gavin Newson recently threatened to withhold state transportation funds from municipalities if they fail to meet new housing production targets. -- January 16, 2020 The Real Deal article

Echo's Brewery (Albuquerque, New Mexico) -- The bar known as Burt's Tiki Lounge is expanding and moving to an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The new facility will be known as Echo's, complete with a brewery, live music, and recording studio:

A popular old bar in downtown Albuquerque is being converted into a new brewery. What was originally Burt’s Tiki Lounge will now be known as Echo’s, a brewery with live music that doubles as a recording venue.

Owner Jake Ralphs said he wants future generations to see downtown the way he did.

“I would like to see the place improve,” he said. “I would like this to be something my kid could experience and have some pride in.”

The downtown corridor is constantly under development and is considered an opportunity zone for local businesses.

“I remember it as a kid coming here seeing lots of live music,” he said. “I cannot wait for this part of town to come back to its glory. I really think we can bring the right crowd down here and have fun.”

Echo’s is set to open this summer. -- January 23, 2020 KOB4 Eyewitness News article

EJF Capital and Chance Partners (Jacksonville, Florida) -- Announced they are building a new housing community which will create a significant amount of construction jobs as well as property management positions:

EJF Capital LLC (“EJF”) and Chance Partners (“Chance”) today announced the development of a two-building, 486-unit multifamily housing community in the historic San Marco neighborhood of Jacksonville, FL. The project, known as San Marco Crossing (the “Project”), is being developed on nearly nine acres consisting of three parcels in an area certified as an “Opportunity Zone” under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”). The TCJA offers investors attractive tax benefits to invest into Opportunity Zones to create economic growth in lower income areas. The approximately $86 million project expects to break ground in Q3 2019 and plans to open in Q4 2020. Ameris Bank, with participation from Stifel Bank, is providing $51 million of construction financing.

“EJF continues to identify and execute on attractive Opportunity Zone investments across the U.S. and bring our financial resources and real estate operating expertise to communities that need it most,” said EJF Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Neal Wilson. “We are excited to partner with Chance Partners on San Marco Crossing, which will bring high-quality multifamily units to this growing area and create a significant number of construction jobs as well as permanent property management positions. We believe small businesses in San Marco will also benefit from the added economic vitality that results from the spending power of about 700 expected new residents.” -- June 28, 2019 Buisiness Wire

Enlightened (Washington, D.C.)  – Moving locations in Washington D.C. as a direct result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which allows the company to be closer to their customers:

Hope is building at the corner of MLK Ave and Good Hope Road in Southeast.

For the first time in more than 50 years, a large company will move across the Anacostia. It is a direct result of a portion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017: Opportunity Zones.

Will it be a boom or a sign of change for the residents of Ward 8? In this project, the hopes of an entrepreneur and community ride together.

Antwanye Ford thinks there is a positive way to redevelop impoverished neighborhoods in D.C. In fact, he is willing to bet on it.

The CEO of tech firm Enlightened is prepared to move his K Street business to the corner of MLK and Good Hope.

"For me I am closer to my customers in Northwest," Ford said. "I’m closer to my home so for me moving (to Ward 8)."

"It’s gonna be less convenient because it’s more important for me to be here." – February 1, 2020, WUSA9 Article.

Erie Insurance (Erie, Pennsylvania) – The insurance company is investing $50 million in the Opportunity Zone investment fund to support a variety of projects in Erie:

“Erie Insurance CEO Tim Necastro announced the establishment of 50 million dollars to the Opportunity Zone Investment Fund.

The fund is designated to help financially support different projects within a portfolio. One of those projects is the Erie Downtown Development Corporation’s plan for North Park Row.

Erie Insurance is investing 2.6 million dollars into the project to create a Culinary Arts District, Foot hall, Market, and Apartments.

Necastro said money in the Opportunity Fund is considered an investment, not a donation.” – August 19th, 2019, Your Erie

Fairfield Inn and Suites (St. Louis, Missouri) -- The hotel is building a location in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Throughout the region, developers with projects in eligible areas, known as Opportunity Zones, are using the new tax break provision to raise more money. At the same time, those developers say, the program is helping attract new investors to St. Louis.

...

Yet right next door, the 136-room Fairfield Inn and Suites, being developed by Equis Hotels, is using an Opportunity Zone fund. In Creve Coeur’s 39 North plant science district, Larry Chapman’s Seneca Commercial Real Estate is, too, as part of the $52 million future headquarters of Benson Hill Biosystems. Lawrence Group’s City Foundry project has also used the new provision to raise capital for the Midtown entertainment and office development. -- January 11, 2020 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article

Gotham Greens (Chicago, Illinois) -- The indoor greenhouse agriculture company opened a greenhouse in the city in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

The growing desire among consumers for fresh greens delivered fast is helping transform parts of Chicago's industrial landscape. Gotham Greens, a pioneer in indoor greenhouse agriculture, yesterday opened its largest greenhouse in Chicago on a portion of the former Ryerson Steel Mill in the historic Pullman neighborhood. The 100K SF greenhouse at 10636 South Woodlawn Ave. is its sixth nationwide, and more than doubles the company’s Midwest production.

Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives repurposed and sold the land to Gotham Greens, part of an effort that has also brought in the 140K SF Whole Foods Midwest Distribution Center, the LEED-Platinum certified Method Products factory and Pullman Crossings, a 62-acre industrial park where Ryan Cos. is putting the finishing touches on a 400K SF industrial spec building. “What’s happening here in some ways mirrors the transition of the national economy, where we’re seeing many industrial areas transformed by green, sustainable and environmentally friendly companies,” CNI President David Doig said.

....

Doig expects the Pullman site will continue to grow overall as well, and aside from its available workforce, land and hub of transportation links, he credits its location within a federal opportunity zone. Although these designations, which will allow investors to eventually receive tax breaks, have received criticism, with some charging they attract investment to already-affluent areas, Doig said the zones have been instrumental in bringing much-needed funds to Pullman. The spec by Ryan Cos., for example, is a $35M project, and all the funding came from opportunity zone investors.   “Pullman is still suffering after years of disinvestment, so we have a lot of catching up to do.” -- November 14, 2020 BisNow article

Greenbacker Renewable Opportunity Zone Fund LLC (Capitol Heights, Maryland) -- The company created a solar electric utility company in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Greenbacker Renewable Opportunity Zone Fund LLC announced today that its first solar business, a 3.1-megawatt solar project, has begun commercial operations and is now producing electricity. This marks the first project completed by Greenbacker Renewable Opportunity Zone Fund and the beginning of the fund’s operations. The solar project is located in Capitol Heights, Maryland and is contracted with a wholly-owned subsidiary of WGL Holdings, a public utility company serving the greater Washington DC area. The first-of-its-kind facility in the county is in a qualified opportunity zone that has been vacant for 30 years after it was deemed unsuitable for residential development. The solar project will produce enough energy to power 333 homes and is expected to contribute approximately $1.4 million in total tax revenue to the county over its length of service.

Commenting on the project, CEO Charles Wheeler stated, “Greenbacker is thrilled to announce the completion of the Project.” He went on to add, “Renewable energy assets are commonly built on the marginal land that tends to fall in opportunity zones. These projects provide local tax revenue and jobs and are a natural extension of Greenbacker’s core investing business.”

Prior to the asset reaching commercial operations, Greenbacker executives joined US Senator Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Anthony Johnson, county officials, and coporate partners for a ribbon cutting event. During his address, Senator Van Hollen said, “The private sector has really come together here…This is a win-win-win for consumers, jobs, and for our environment.”

The commercial operation date for the Project was January 14, 2020. -- January 22, 2020 GlobeNewsWire article

H2O Connected (Coatesville, Pennsylvania) -- The business will be relocating to an Opportunity Zone and expanding:

H2O Connected, the first Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) business to open its doors in Chester County, will be relocating in late 2020 into a highly anticipated Qualified Opportunity Zone Real Estate project at 190 West Lincoln Highway in Coatesville, developed by Proudfoot Capital.

This former Lukens Steel advertising and marketing office building, built in 1902, is being repurposed into The nth Innovation Center, which will offer entrepreneurs an environment to grow their companies from concept to commercialization.

Already slated to join H2O Connected is nth Solutions, a product development, business incubation, and manufacturing company located in Exton, PA; BioForce Analytics, a provider of sophisticated motion measurement devices for industry and education applications; and Priority Green, a leader in traffic signal preemption products for emergency vehicles. -- March 13, 2020 Daily Local article

Habitat Company (Chicago, Illinois) -- The real estate management company, along with other groups, are building a new apartment that is located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

For the first time in many years, Chicago’s North Lawndale community is getting a major mixed-use development that will bring much-needed jobs, retail space, and eventually hundreds of new residential units to the historically underserved West Side neighborhood.

....

The public-private partnership between Habitat, Sinai, Cinespace, the CHA, and the city of Chicago isn’t the only unusual aspect of the development. The Ogden Commons will be Chicago’s largest mixed-use project to take advantage of federal Opportunity Zones. -- March 9, 2020 Curbed article

Hazelwood Green Development (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)-- This Opportunity Zone led to the creation of a 240,000 square foot workspace which has the potential to become a local tech hub, laying the groundwork for Pittsburgh’s jobs of the future.

“One of those success stories, she said, is the nearby Hazelwood Green development, which is located within one of the 68 designated opportunity zones in Allegheny County. Ms. Kelley and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fleming spent Friday morning at the riverfront property, formerly the LTV Coke Works site, which developers and universities say could become a potential local tech hub.

Ms. Kelley said she’s happy to see the development -—including the Mill 19 building that will become a 240,000-square foot workspace — is within an opportunity zone, and will help lay the groundwork for Pittsburgh’s jobs of the future.

"Not only can Mill 19 provide new jobs and opportunities to Hazelwood, but it will also expose an entire community to advanced manufacturing, which was a community born in traditional manufacturing," Ms. Kelley said.”-- November 1, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hillstone Advantage Partners (Opelika, Alabama) -- The Opportunity Zone portion of the TCJA led to the creation of a $10 million business park:

“In Opelika, Hillstone Advantage Partners has begun construction on a $10 million, 13-and-a-half acre business park off Hi Pack Drive.

On its website, Hillstone says its goal is “the acquisition and development of income-producing commercial and industrial real estate” in opportunity zones to “generate consistent returns and a profitable exit...all while maximizing community impact.”

The first building in the business park should be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2020, and will be used for startups and businesses that can take advantage of the zone. Developer Jacob Hill said the project was already being considered before the creation of an opportunity zone there, but it acted as an incentive.” – September 15th, 2019, Alabama (AL.com)

Home 2/Tru by Hilton (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) -- A hotel chain opened a new location in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

As investors rushed to invest in Opportunity Zones before the end of the year, Driftwood Acquisitions & Development and Merrimac Ventures locked in their first deal in the federal tax program.

The Coral Gables-based investment firm Driftwood and Fort Lauderdale-based Merrimac closed a deal through an Opportunity Zone fund by raising $24 million to develop a 218-key dual-branded hotel. The Home 2/Tru by Hilton will be built at 315-333 Northwest 1st Avenue in Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Village. The deal closed right before the end of the year, allowing investors to take advantage of the largest possible tax benefit in the Opportunity Zones program.

The deal also comes on the heels of the long awaited final regulations released by the U.S. Treasury and the IRS late last month, which experts say gives real estate investors the clarity to start putting money into Opportunity Zone real estate projects.

Jorge L. Gomez-Moller, Driftwood’s general counsel, said investment in the company’s Opportunity Zone fund has come from retail investors as well as wealthy family offices looking to take advantage of lucrative cash breaks. The project is expected to be completed within the first quarter of 2020.

Driftwood and Merrimac secured a $28.4 million construction loan from Little Rock, Arkansas-based Bank OZK, to build the hotel. The bank is one of the most active construction lenders in South Florida, New York City and Los Angeles.

The deal is just one of many initiatives that Driftwood has in store for 2020, as Gomez-Moller said the company is seeking to raise $200 million to $250 million in capital through two new real estate funds. The company is also looking to reposition a 10-story office building in Wilmington, Delaware into a 136-room IHG-branded hotel.

The Flagler Village project is one of the few Opportunity Zone projects in South Florida in which investors will begin seeing cash flow in the next few months. Many other Opportunity Zone projects are in pre-development stages, according to Gomez-Moller.

Tucked into President Trump’s 2017 tax legislation, the Opportunity Zones initiative’s goal is to encourage private investment in distressed communities by allowing investors and real estate developers to defer or forgo paying capital gains taxes if they invest in one of the more than 8,700 zones throughout the country.

The program was the most talked about initiative in real estate, but demand has lagged behind the lofty expectations, due to delays in the rollout of the rules. In South Florida, developers claim they have struggled to find deals that pencil out due to the rising costs of land in Opportunity Zones. -- January 3, 2020 The Real Deal article

Jetton General Contracting (Jonesboro, Arkansas) -- The contracting company has built a number of "micro-lofts" in the Opportunity Zones:

"Just about any type of business can qualify in an Opportunity Zone, as can property and equipment. The only businesses that don’t qualify on the front end are so-called “sin” businesses such as massage parlors, strip clubs, country clubs, golf courses and others.

.....

Jetton General Contracting has built a number of downtown “micro-lofts” that are small, modern loft-style apartments suited for college students, she said. The downtown area has about 130 lofts and other apartments." -- February 27, 2020 Talk Business article

JLL Capital Markets (Jersey City, New Jersey) -- The company is investing in a brand new apartment complex, which will create new jobs:

"JLL Capital Markets has arranged a $20.5 million loan for an investment fund that’s buying a Jersey City apartment complex, NJBIZ reported. Borrower Normandy Opportunity Zone Fund, which is managed by Columbia Property Trust, plans to use the financing to purchase the 93-unit, six-story building known as The Ashton, which is in an opportunity zone. The building houses 62 parking spots, according to the outlet. Rialto Capital Management provided the two-year, floating rate loan. " -- February 26, 2020 The Real Deal article

Lakemont Retirement Community (Newport City, Vermont) -- A developer was able to build a new retirement community by taking advantage of the TCJA Opportunity Zone program:

NEWPORT CITY — Developer Heidi Eichenberger wants to build a $22 million housing development called LakemontRetirement Community on Lakemont Road featuring nearly 200 apartments and a full range of services.

She hopes to tap into a newly created "opportunity zone" in Newport City that would allow people who sell property to invest and defer capital gains taxes into the future and also reduce the tax burden over time.

If all goes well with investments and permitting, construction could begin on Lakemont Retirement Community in the spring and be completed in October, said Eichenberger this week.

It's a unique development for Vermont that has support from Newport City Mayor Paul Monette, Jon Freeman, president of Northern Community Investment Corp., and others working in the accounting, construction and banking industries.

"I look at this as ideal," Monette said Thursday when some of the supporters and people working with Eichenberger on the project gathered at her office at the Hearing Center of Vermont on the Derby Road.

......

And it is the first large project to be proposed for one of Vermont's 25 "opportunity zones." There are thousands nationwide but the law that created these zones is new. There are two other zones in the Northeast Kingdom in Lyndonvileand St. Johnsbury.

Eichenberger said she initially looked at developing the project in Derby but switched to Newport City when she learned about the opportunity zone here. She created Lakemont Investment LLC to take advantage of this special zone.

The zone allows investors who sell property to invest their capital gains into the project and defer capital gains taxes for years and also see some tax breaks on the investment, according to Stephen Trenholm, certified public accountant with Gallagher, Flynn & Company. -- February 15, 2019 The Caledonian-Record article.

Marathon Kickz (Aiken, South Carolina) -- This shoe store opened because of the Opportunity Zones portion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Victor Fuewell is the owner of Marathon Kickz, on the intersection of Hampton Avenue and York Street. He says after years of selling rare shoes online, he decided to open shop in his neighborhood.

“Once I saw that I could sell my shoes on e-Bay and it was very profitable, I started going to sneaker conventions,” Explained Fuewell. “So it gave me the idea to open up a store for the community.”

The goal of the opportunity zone is to blossom these neighborhoods. Fuewell says his store is playing a role in bringing people in and keeping kids out of trouble.

“They’re in here for hours looking at shoes,” said Fuewell. “They’re also able to trade some shoes they have at the house for another pair. It keeps them in the store a lot.”

Marathon Kickz has been open for business for about three weeks. The owner hopes his company can be the stepping stone for other investors to bring their businesses on this side of town.

“People are just afraid to give it a chance because of the crime over this way,” said Fuewell. “So investors are kind of afraid to open up a business because they afraid of the crime.”

Victor Fuewell says opening Marathon Kickz was step one. Step two is revitalizing the car wash next to it, adding another new business in the opportunity zone." -- February 17, 2020  WJBF article.

Maxus Reality Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee) -- The company is building an apartment complex in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

According to the Mastered in Tennessee website, there are currently four Opportunity Zone projects in the Tri-Cities area. The projects, business type, and value are:

Town Park Lofts – Kingsport – $39.4 million. This reflects the developer’s sale of The Lofts to Maxus Realty Trust. The Lofts is a luxury apartment complex on the edge of downtown Kingsport. -- November 22, 2019 DonFenley.Com article

Monde Group (North Little Rock, Arkansas) -- The company is building an apartment complex in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Arkansas-based Monde Group broke ground Wednesday (Jan. 8) on the Esplanade District, a 41-acre mixed-use neighborhood development in North Little Rock along the Arkansas River. It is located adjacent to Rockwater Village and Riverside at Rockwater Apartments.

The first phase includes the construction of Esplanade luxury apartment homes, which will feature 92 one- and two-bedroom units, all with private balconies or patios. The property, which is expected to cost about $20 million to develop, is scheduled to open in early 2021.

“Esplanade will offer a unique living experience unlike any other in central Arkansas,” said Blake Jackson founder and managing partner of the Monde Group. “In addition to our premiere valet services and enhanced security features, our property will also feature a spa, fitness center, bicycle lockers, beach, swim-up bar, entertainment and lush gardens.”

Future costs of the acreage to be developed are unknown. Over the next 10-15 years, Jackson said the development will include restaurants, bars and specialty shops with condos, single-family homes and a boutique hotel.

“We really see Esplanade as the first step on a new path to modern living in central Arkansas,” Jackson said. “With close proximity to parks, golf courses, the millennium bike trail, Rockwater Marina, the Argenta Arts District, downtown Little Rock, North Little Rock, and the Clinton National Airport, Esplanade will boast the first significant phase of what will be a multi-phase community development and continue the momentum of Rockwater Village and North Little Rock’s building renaissance.” -- January 8, 2020 Talk Business article

Old Sistrunk Distillery (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) -- Rapper Flo Rida is opening a vodka distillery in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

It’s only fitting for rapper Flo Rida to build his new vodka distillery in Florida.

The 40-year-old multiplatinum artist is going beyond the music charts as the co-owner and brand ambassador of Old Sistrunk Distillery, according to a Tuesday report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The 13,000-square-foot venue is set to open either in late 2020 or early 2021 in one of Fort Lauderdale’s minority neighborhoods.

Old Sistrunk Distillery will pour Victor George Vodka, a brand co-owned by music execturned entrepreneur Victor G. Harvey. Flo Rida will serve as an equity partner and brand ambassador for the company, which is hyper-focused on distilling the popular Russian spirit.

“I have known Mr. Harvey for years and I’ve seen his grind, hard work and enthusiasm in building his brand,” Flo Rida said in a press statement. He added that he looks forward to “developing new products through the construction of a distillery in historic Sistrunk and empowering the community.”

In November, Harvey paid $75,000 for a 6,306-square-foot lot in Sistrunk, according to real estate news company The Real Deal. The property is considered an “Opportunity Zone,” which means any development could qualify for potential tax benefits such as deferred federal taxes on capital gains until 2026 because the federal government views investment in low-income areas as a positive.

“Opportunity zones are an economic development tool—that is, they are designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities,” the IRS has written on the matter.

Harvey appears to be in agreement with the economic decision. Sistrunk is Fort Lauderdale’s oldest African American community and the median income in the very area the distillery is being built is $36,372, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which is significantly less than Fort Lauderdale’s overall median income of $55,269.

“What we are building in the Sistrunk community is exactly what the area needs," Harvey said in a press release. "A place to dine, drink, and socialize without having to leave the area.”

The three-story distillery will be located at 1012 Sistrunk Blvd. and will include a tasting room, restaurant, lounge, cigar and wine bar. -- January 23, 2020 Yahoo Finance article

Opelika Innovation and Technology Park (Opelika, Alabama) -- The mayor announced that he is creating a technology park that is located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller announced the creation of a new technology park for the city Tuesday, which he and city leaders believe will attract new businesses to the city.

The Opelika Innovation and Technology Park has 105 acres of land along Highway 280 West between Veterans and Waverly parkways, in close proximity to Auburn University, Southern Union State Community College, Tiger Town and East Alabama Medical Center.

“I think it’s going to be positive because a number of investors are looking for a place — an opportunity zone — because of the wonderful tax ramifications that it offers investors,” Mayor Gary Fuller said, adding that he thinks the new park will be popular and that the city will hopefully announce its first tenant soon.

John Sweatman, project manager for the city’s department of economic development, said it’s now a matter of letting businesses know about what the park has to offer, and to target companies that would make good fits for the city.

The land for the park is classified as an opportunity zone, which benefits and provides incentives for businesses to move there. Not only is the cost for build-to-suit leasing cheaper, but businesses in opportunity zones also are prioritized for grant making and can benefit from investing in their own operations.

“Opelika has been incredibly proactive about harnessing the power of its Opportunity Zone. Its vision for building a place where innovation and technology can co-exist matches perfectly with the spirit of the Opportunity Zone incentive, which facilitates investment in both buildings and the companies that occupy them,” said Alexander Flachsbart, founder and CEO of Opportunity Alabama, in a news release announcing the new plan.

Gov. Kay Ivey has designated 158 Opportunity Zones across the state. -- January 21, 2020 Oanow.Com article

Opportunity Zone in Springfield, Vermont: Two residential properties were purchased because of tax savings through the Opportunity Zone program, bringing jobs and business to the town:

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — The town of Springfield became a center of machine tool manufacturing in the 20th century. But as the industry began to wane, this industrial town on the Connecticut River, once an economic powerhouse, fell on hard times and has struggled to reinvent itself.

Local boosters say a new federal program that gives wealthy people incentives to invest in low-income communities could be the key to reviving Springfield's economy.

The so-called “Opportunity Zone" program has brought new investors to this storied factory town.

The tax break incentive has proved to be “an extremely attractive tool" for economic development, according to Bob Flint, the executive director of the Springfield Regional Development Corp.

“It's stimulated really interesting projects," Flint said.

Two multi-unit residential properties in Springfield have already been purchased through the Opportunity Zone program. -- September 8, 2019 Valley News Article.

Parsonex Properties (Englewood, Colorado) -- The company is investing in new townhomes in an Opportunity Zone:

"A housing development that is adding 44 new townhomes to Grand Junction is receiving a boost on its last phase from an opportunity zone investment.

....

Parsonex Properties is a financial services company with about $300 million in assets under its management. It is based in Englewood on the Front Range.

This is the first opportunity zone investment for the company, but it has invested in other housing projects outside of the zones. Parsonex invested $2 million of its opportunity fund in this project.

“When the opportunity zone legislation came out, we saw it as a good opportunity to enter into the fund space,” ParsonexProperties President Shane Phillips said." -- February 23, 2020 Grand Junction Sentinel article

Proximity Space Inc. (Montrose, Colorado) -- The coworking company was provided funding to expand the company's network, which is located in various Opportunity Zones created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Montrose’s coworking space has been a first — now a second — when it comes to netting opportunity zone funding.

Proximity Space Inc. first won such funding last August, after the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) named it the first company to successfully place an opportunity zone investment.

The latest win came last week, when Proximity Space was given new funding from the CORI Innovation Fund to help the coworking business’ network.

“It’s a pretty neat step for Proximity to not only get their investment but their first investment,” CEO Josh Freed said.

The CORI Innovation Fund initiative is a qualified opportunity zone fund that invests in high-growth technology companies supporting job creation and revenue generation in rural communities. The Center on Rural Innovation launched this initiative in September 2019.

These CORI funds will go toward the extension of Proximity’s network.

 The Proximity network has a national footprint and contains several coworking spaces located in rural areas in addition to recovering economies poised to support the growth of new businesses and entrepreneurs, Freed said.

Proximity’s Montrose location is on one of three different board areas, or census tracts, in Montrose County. Those three were part of 126 tracts in Colorado that in April 2018 won the U.S. Department of Treasury certification as Colorado opportunity zones. -- January 19, 2020 Montrose Press article

Prudential Financial (Baltimore, Maryland) – The company invested into the $150 million mixed-use project near the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center that will host a variety of stores and businesses.

“In one of the city’s first Opportunity Zone deals, Prudential Financial invested in the $150 million Yard 56 mixed-use project across from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in East Baltimore, not far from the booming neighborhoods of Brewers Hill and Canton.

Across Baltimore and at the state level, elected officials have praised Opportunity Zones as a needed boost for a city where investment funds aren’t always easy to come by, particularly in some of the neighborhoods where projects are popping up.” – August 7th, 2019, Baltimore Sun

"The insurance and investment management firm said Friday its impact investments group would put an undisclosed amount of money into the first phase of Yard 56, across Eastern Avenue from Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Bayview Medical center. In its $77 million first phase, Yard 56 will have 100,000 square feet of offices and more than 80,000 square feet of shopping, with tenants Streets Market grocery store, LA Fitness, Chipotle, the Brass Tap craft beer bar, Top Coat and Panda Express," – January 11, 2019, Baltimore Sun.

Quarry Yard (Atlanta, Georgia) – The Opportunity Zone led to the creation of a 74-acre, mixed-use project:

This mixed-use project could blend thousands of residential units with office, retail and even hotel space. “An area developer filed plans with the state in August for a 74-acre, mixed-use project in an Opportunity Zone near the Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry. And in early September, an Atlanta-based film company announced it will build recording studios, sound stages and a technology center on 30 acres of its Opportunity Zone property on Continental Colony Pkwy SW.” – August 26th, 2019, Atlanta Business Chronicle

Rising Tide Management (Birmingham, Alabama) – The housing management company lowered the cost of rent for housing in the Opportunity Zones by an average of $100 because of the tax legislation:

“Rising Tide Management of Birmingham was already buying up distressed housing in and around the Magic City before the creation of opportunity zones. Managing Partner Rob Ashurst said the company owns about 500 properties, with about 50 in the zones.

Rising Tide, which manages the Southeast Opportunity Zone Fund, buys the houses, renovates and manages the houses. In some cases, the company buys the houses for about $8,000, spends about $50,000 on renovations, and then rents them to tenants. By doing so, it is “solving the affordable housing problem,” Ashurst said. They have a 2 to 3 percent vacancy rate. This is a different model than other OZ plans which sometimes involve distressed large buildings repurposed as mixed-use properties with retail and housing.

“We’ve already got five years of operating history,” Ashurst said. “So we were able to put together a plan for investors, and the banks were willing to finance. The investors can get a pretty good return.” Because of the Opportunity Zone credits, rent is about $100 cheaper for tenants in the homes located in the zones, Ashurst said.” – September 15th, 2019, Alabama (AL.com)

Rockefeller Foundation (Atlanta, Georgia) – The city is seeing big economic growth because of the TCJA Opportunity Zone legislation:

“The federal Qualified Opportunity Zones program, created as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, draws investors to struggling areas by offering them a chance to defer tax on eligible capital gains if they make an appropriate investment in a fund associated with a designated zone and meet other requirements.

“Atlanta is home to 26 of Georgia’s Opportunity Zones, which have seen a lot of activity. Since November 2017, 52 commercial and industrial properties have sold in Atlanta Opportunity Zones, funneling a total of $78 million in new capital to those areas, according to the real estate data service, Reonomy…” – September 25th, 2019, Atlanta Business Chronicle

Rock 31 (Billings, Montana) - The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zones are estimated to bring 95 new jobs to the city:

Under President Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, downtown Billings was able to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce of $2 million as the area qualifies as an Opportunity Zone.

Opportunity Zones are given grants in an attempt to spur economic development by giving tax incentives to investors in economically distressed communities nationwide.

The Opportunity Zone for this project is the Montana National Bank located on 201 N Broadway. The bank will be renovated to house Rock 31 Connect Build and Grow which will provide technical assistance, skills training, hiring resources and more to those embarking on new business ventures.

"This is really designed for people who are taking a big risk and jumping into developing their product, their service any type of early stage high growth company know that this is a space you can come learn from our mentors, learn from our Rock 31 team and connect with like minded individuals," says Program Manager Kevin Scharfe.

Rock 31 is projected to foster nearly two dozen business startups which are expected to create 95 jobs and generate $6.6 million in private investment which would bring change to the community. -- Dec. 3, 2019, KULR article.

RXR Realty (Brooklyn, New York) -- Launched a fund to invest money in Opportunity Zones:

“The fundraising efforts could help fund the company’s existing developments in designated census areas, like its $170M project in New Rochelle or redevelopment efforts in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.” -- October 24th, 2018, Opportunity Zones Database

Saxum Real Estate (Austin, Texas) -- A mixed use development is being built in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A more than 60,000 square foot mixed-use development is under construction at 1141 Shady Lane and expected to be completed sometime in mid- to late 2020.

The development is one of many going up in East Austin just off of Airport Boulevard.

Some people who live near Shady Lane say the neighborhoods in the area have drastically changed over the years.

...

This project sits in one of Austin's opportunity zones, which are part of a federal tax incentive provision that encourages investors to re-invest capital gains into Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds. The Opportunity Zone tax provision is not administered by the City of Austin.

“I believe it actually benefits a whole spectrum of individuals," said Anthony Rinaldi, the founder and managing principal of Saxum Real Estate. -- Nov. 3, 2019 KVUE article

Small Business Development Center at York College (Southeast Queens, New York)-- has given $30M in loans to opportunity zone businesses in Southeast Queens.

“Although most of the discussed EOZ development has been on real estate, there are some investors interested in opportunity zone businesses.

Harry Wells, Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center at York College/CUNY and Demond Wilkerson, Asset Management Consultant for SBDC highlighted the importance of leveraging the local institutions to build business capacity while planning for sustainability.

“Our SBDC center has done $30M in loans to businesses in Southeast Queens,” Wells said.” -- June 28th, 2019, NY State Senator James Sanders Jr. Page, ‘Economic Opportunity Zones Highlighted at Sanders' Community Clergy Breakfast’

Staley Point Capital (Los Angeles, California) -- The company is creating a self-storage facility in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

For its first project, Staley Point Capital wants to demolish a 21,000-square-foot South Los Angeles light manufacturing complex it acquired last month and replace it with a sprawling “state of the art” self-storage facility, according to records filed with the Los Angeles City Planning Department.

Century City-based Staley Point is a new venture formed by Kevin Staley — who co-founded the Magellan Group — and his son, Eric, who recently left Blackstone Group, Eric Staley said.

In December, the investment firm paid $7.35 million for the site located at West 25th Street and Broadway. It plans to replace the existing structures with a 109,000-square-foot storage facility featuring 24-hour digital surveillance and controlled access.

This site is located in a federal Opportunity Zone. Over 8,700 such zones have been created across the country. Developers who undertake projects in them can realize significant tax benefits by investing their capital gains in the designated  census tracts. -- January 16, 2020 The Real Deal article

Starwood Capital Group and AB Capstone (Bronx, New York) -- The firm is developing a mixed-use facility within a Bronx Opportunity Zone:

“... the 10-story development will be anchored by a pre-K through eighth grade school, run by Zeta Charter Schools. The building will include office space for a non-profit and ground-floor retail….

The facility will have modern finishes, state-of-the-art classrooms, a double-height gym, floor-to-ceiling windows, open plan offices and more than 11,000 square feet of outdoor space...

“The Bronx is New York City’s fastest growing borough and we see continued opportunity to help bring new investment in the services, schools, office space and retail that have long contributed to the Bronx being such a vibrant community,” says Anthony Balestrieri, SVP and leader of Starwood Capital Group’s Opportunity Zone investment strategy.” -- May 10th, 2019, Globe St.

Standard Companies (Savannah, Georgia) -- The company is building an apartment complex that will be located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A new multi-family housing development will soon transform the corner of Liberty and East Broad Streets, inside one of Savannah’s designated Federal Opportunity Zones.

Savannah’s three zones, which were created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act aim to spur investment in distressed communities throughout the country, were designated in 2018.

“We pride ourselves and focus on creating communities in both the physical and the social sense by finding ways to improve urban areas and revitalize them and bring them into their next phase as responsible stewards, which is exactly what we are hoping to do in Savannah,” said Steven Kahn, director for California-based Standard Companies, which will develop approximately 215 residential units at 601 Liberty St.

Standard’s plans call for a five-story building with a mixture of multi-family units, that will be market-rate driven and plans for commercial space on the property are still being flushed out, according to Tommy Attridge, director, southeast production for Standard.

An exact ground breaking date has not been announced and Standard declined to disclose a total investment cost.

“We’re still finalizing our design, but we’re eager to get started,” Attridge said.

The site, which is just under two acres, was previously owned by the City of Savannah. After putting out a public request for proposals in 2018, the city approved the sale of the site to Standard for $5.9 million in Aug. 2018. The Metropolitan Planning Commission approved the new construction plan in April 2019 and the sale of the property was finalized Dec. 2019.

The property also includes an existing building, which was built in 1927 as offices for the Atlantic Coastal Line Railroad. It previously housed the Catholic Diocese of Savannah before the city purchased the property for $3.5 million in 2015 with plans to renovate the structure to relocate several downtown departments. -- January 31, 2020 Savannah Now article

Stillman College (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) – The college was able to build a 125 room hotel that will serve as a teaching center for the school's hospitality program because of the Opportunity Zones.

“In July, Stillman College signed a memorandum of understanding with partners in a project to build a 125-room hotel on the college campus to serve as a teaching center for the school’s hospitality management program. Included in the project is mixed-use residential and commercial space, including market-rate housing for faculty, graduate students and others. The hotel would be operated by HDG Hotels of Ocala, Fla., in partnership with Stillman...

The plan is for the hotel to be sold back to Stillman College for its long-term use at the end of a holding period, with the cash flowing back to the college...

Robert Jenkins, senior managing director for Renaissance HBCU Opportunity Fund, said the Stillman project is consistent with other projects being assembled in OZs, which usually involve some mixed-use development involving retail and housing. Stillman would not be happening without opportunity zones, he said.

“You’re attracting equity to a lower income neighborhood in a tertiary city,” Jenkins said. “As much as I like Tuscaloosa, it’s not Washington, it’s not L.A., it’s not Atlanta.” In addition, graduates of the program will not only have the ability to hold jobs in the hospitality field, but will have executive and entrepreneurial skills developed by the program, he said.” – September 15th, 2019, Alabama (AL.com)

Taplin Development Corp. (Hallandale Beach, Florida) -- The company is building 320 apartment units, a 120 key hotel, and retail stores in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A high-rise apartment and hotel project is planned for an Opportunity Zone in Hallandale Beach.

Taplin Development Corp., led by Jack Taplin, received approval from the city to build 320 apartments and a 120-key hotel with a retail component across from Gulfstream Park, according to a release. The project will be called the Falls at Gulfstream and the property will consist of a 23-story building at 900 South Federal Highway.

The Class A property will have a rooftop bar overlooking the finish line at Gulfstream Park. The property is also adjacent to the Village at Gulfstream Park, an upscale shopping center.

The federal Opportunity Zone program allows developers and investors to receive a tax incentive if they invest in one of the more than 8,700 zones throughout the country. The program was designed to encourage investment in low-income and distressed areas, but has come under scrutiny as a tax break for wealthy developers.

“We are currently seeking Opportunity Zone joint venture equity to meet the end of the year zone deadline,” Taplin said in a statement. -- November 13, 2019 The Real Deal article

Tony Rankins, SOTU Guest (Cincinnati, Ohio) --

According to Politico:

"One of the president’s guests for the speech, the senior administration official noted, would be Tony Rankins — a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and became addicted to drugs, before getting clean and eventually getting a job in one of the Opportunity Zones created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in Cincinnati.

Rankins’ hometown paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, has more on him and his job with R Investments, described as a Denver company that does development work in Cincinnati and trained Rankins in carpentry and other skills." -- February 3, 2020, Politico.

Unico Properties (Tacoma, Washington) -- The company is creating an apartment complex in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A controversial federal tax break is fueling the transformation of a historic downtown Tacoma office into apartments where residents will be able to enjoy a unique amenity: A basement bank vault, preserved from the days when the 18-story building was home to the Scandinavian American Bank.

When it was built in 1925, the twin-towered Washington Building was the second-tallest in the Pacific Northwest, after the 42-story Smith Tower. But by the time Seattle-based Unico Properties purchased the building in 2017, it was sparsely occupied and behind on needed repairs.

The company immediately announced plans to convert the building, four blocks north of the Museum of Glass, into 150 residential units.

Over the past two years, though, ballooning construction costs put a crimp in Unico’s plans for the adaptive-reuse project. Seattle-area construction expenses rose by nearly 14% in that period, according to the Mortenson Construction Cost Index.

Enter opportunity zone (OZ) financing.

Much of Tacoma has been declared eligible for opportunity zone tax breaks, a federal program signed into law at the end of 2017 allowing investors to shelter capital gains for up to 10 years by investing in projects in some low-income census tracts.

The program has come under fire nationally for benefiting wealthy investors while not aiding the poor communities it was meant to help, though local opportunity zone investors say they work hard to ensure their projects serve the state’s working class. Seattle’s first opportunity zone project, Pioneer Square’s Canton Lofts apartments, was supported by local officials including former City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. -- January 3, 2020 Seattle Times article

Vicksburg Forest Products LLC  (Vicksburg, Mississippi) -- Because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, local Opportunity Zones are bringing in jobs:

“...I was a part of the first one (opportunity zone development) in the United States,” Flaggs said. “They asked me to speak about Vicksburg; its progress and why the opportunity zone worked for us and how it can be a model for the country.”

Vicksburg has three opportunity zones, “And we’re going to make every effort to utilize them,” Flaggs said. The Forestland Group, which bought Anderson-Tully in 2006, announced earlier in 2018 that it was closing the mill — a move affecting the 158 workers at the plant.

Jackson-based Vicksburg Forest Products LLC, the parent company of Vicksburg Forest Products, was able to take advantage of opportunity zone funding and bought the Anderson-Tully mill operation in June 2018, saving 125 jobs...

He said another opportunity zone includes the Mississippi Hardware building, which is being converted into the Mississippi Center for Innovation & Technology, an innovation and tech transfer center to serve the Vicksburg area and the entire central Mississippi region.” – October 3rd, 2019, The Vicksburg Post

Virtua Partners (Phoenix, Arizona) - Launched an Opportunity Zone Fund, raising $200million for the fund:

Virtua Partners (Virtua), a global private-equity real-estate investment firm, today announced the launch of the first-ever Opportunity Zone Fund. This groundbreaking fund is the first vehicle designed to invest in the newly created Opportunity Zones -- one of the lesser known provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the Tax Reform Act). Virtua Opportunity Zone Fund I, LLC aims to raise $200 million and is designed to utilize the tax-savings opportunities created by the tax-reform law. - June 20, 2018 Virtua Partners press release

Voi Inc. (Springfield, Vermont) -- The artificial intelligence company was able to open a location because of a grant that was made possible by the TCJA Opportunity Zones:

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — The Black River Innovation Campus (BRIC) will be getting a new manufacturing neighbor dedicated to artificial intelligence behavioral technology inside the former Park Street School.

With the help of a grant from the Center on Rural Innovation, Voi Incorporated will be located adjacent to the Black River Innovation Campus.

..

"According to Calvelli, the Center on Rural Innovation Fund seeks to fund economic growth in rural communities while making connections with technology based companies to provide jobs for economically depressed areas.

"The Center on Rural Innovation Fund invests in growth businesses located in qualified Opportunity Zones in the United States to enhance economic growth and job creation in small communities. The fund seeks to find attractive technology-enabled operating businesses in rural geographies, which are under-served by traditional venture capital institutions," Calvelli said. "The Center on Rural Innovation Fund identifies, funds, and supports the best tech entrepreneurs American small towns have to offer." -- February 28, 2020 Argus-Champion.

Walker & Dunlop Inc. (Birmingham, Alabama) -- The commercial real estate finance company announced they would be building a new apartment complex located in an opportunity zone:

Walker & Dunlop has structured $51.9 million in financing for ECLIPSE at CityCentre, a five-story, 278-unit, multifamily project here. Located in Huntsville’s Downtown area, the property is within the bounds of a designated opportunity zone census tract. -- March 17, 2020 GlobeSt.Com article

White Lotus Group (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) -- The company announced that they will be building 100 affordable apartments located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

The former Fletcher School property near Northridge Mall in Milwaukee could be sold to developer White Lotus Group for 100 new affordable apartments and community spaces for local social service groups including the YMCA.  White Lotus Group, based in Omaha, Nebraska, expects the project will cost $28 million, according to a city of Milwaukee report on the proposed property sale. The one-story school at 9500 W. Allyn St. has been vacant since 2009. The city would sell it for $500,000. 

White Lotus has a “special affinity” for rehabbing vacant former schools into housing, and is exploring multiple opportunities to do that in Milwaukee, said Scott Henry, executive vice president of development in the company’s Chicago office. 

  “The real estate tends to be good, the buildings tend to be built well and solidly and they are beloved properties in the community that people want to see saved,” he said.  White Lotus would build three vertical floors on top of the existing Fletcher school for a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The first floor would have about 70,000 square feet of community space dedicated for local social-service organizations. Those organizations could provide financial literacy training, or help people find jobs, for example, Henry said.

 Potential partners for that space are the YMCA, Social Development Commission and CrossWay Church, according to the city report.  The apartments would be for people making 50% to 80% of the area’s median income level, Henry said. It would become a modern housing option for people in the local workforce, he said.  White Lotus must secure low-income housing tax credits to finance the development. It would apply in December to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to compete for them. If White Lotus succeeds in winning the credits, it would buy Fletcher School in August 2020.  

 Evers reveals businesses allowed to operate under Safer at Home order  Businesses allowed to operate under the Safer at Home order include banks and health care operations COMING EVENT Power Breakfast June 19   White Lotus plans to use other public financing mechanisms to pay for the project. Those include the federal Opportunity Zone program, Henry said. The federal Opportunity Zone program offers tax breaks to investors who put money received from capital gains into developments in low-income areas.  White Lotus usually works with larger corporations seeking to invest multimillion-dollar sums through the Opportunity Zone program. While that financing would be available for Fletcher School, Henry said there’s also room for local investors who may want to participate. -- November 11, 2019 Milwaukee Business Journal article

Woodlawn Theatre (Birmingham, Alabama) -- A local resident plans to turn the theater into something that can be used to give to the community, made possible because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone program:

Will Mason plans to turn the former Woodlawn Theatre into a music teaching and performance hub, but the project might be more transformative than just revenue and revitalization.  A federal program that gives capital gains tax breaks for investments made in economically distressed areas is funding the project at 5503 1st Avenue North in Woodlawn, a neighborhood just east of downtown Birmingham.

The space will be both a business and provide a community service—affordable music lessons. His lesson business, Mason Music, offers lessons for as low as $10 per month through the nonprofit Mason Music Foundation.  “It’s about creative community, revitalizing places and giving hope. It’s giving children a pathway they can love for the rest of their life. You can’t quantify any of that. When you talk about community revitalization, that’s the stuff that makes the difference,” said Alex Flaschbart, CEO of Opportunity Alabama. Opportunity Alabama (OPAL) is a nonprofit that connects OZ funds with projects, collects some data about OZ projects in Alabama, and wants to track how the projects impact the community.  Flaschbart said he expects the theatre to create about 25 jobs, including two full-time managers.  Backers hope the Woodlawn Theatre’s impact could be more profound than jobs and investment by bringing an accessible music experience and gathering place to the community.  Mason says he wants to incorporate community events during the week and hold larger concerts and events on the weekend. Also, he’s considering a weekly movie night and open microphone type events where people could see a show and have a drink for $10 to $15." -- February 29, 2020 AL.Com article

Woodfield Investments (Charleston, South Carolina) -- The investment company is building a 388-unit apartment community in downtown Charleston in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A joint venture of Woodfield Investments and Argosy Real Estate Partners has received a $100.6 million senior loan from PCCP for the development of Morrison Yard, a 380-unit community in a qualified opportunity zone in downtown Charleston, S.C. At the same time, Argosy Real Estate Partners provided $27.8 million in equity financing for the same project. Phillips Realty Capital structured the joint venture equity investment on behalf of Woodfield Investment. 

Located at 838 Morrison Drive on a former State Ports Authority site, the development is on the Charleston Peninsula, in an emerging area known as North of Morrison. This former industrial zone is being revitalized through several mixed-use projects. Recently, a 231-unit project that broke ground in mid-2018, was completed in the area.

Construction has already begun on Morrison Yard, which will include 25,960 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, a 10-story building and a six-story structure. Plans also call for a shared two-level parking garage. The upcoming property is slated to include 72 studios, 164 one-, 132 two- and 12 three-bedroom units, averaging 960 square feet. Additionally, the project will also feature green space across eight courtyards, a two-level lobby, a clubhouse, a 3,300-square-foot fitness center, a business center, a media room, event space, a rooftop pool and multiple grilling areas.

According to PCCP, the Charleston region has a population of 787,643 residents and a tight unemployment rate of 2.5 percent. Several employers in the tourism, military, aerospace and technology sectors will be easily accessible from Morrison Yard, when completed in 2022. -- January 20, 2020 Multi-Housing News article

Photo Credit: Pedro Szekely/Flickr


Biden Endorses Another Tax Hike on the Middle Class

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Posted by John Kartch on Sunday, April 5th, 2020, 12:00 PM PERMALINK

Joe Biden has endorsed yet another tax increase on middle class households. The tax will impose tax increases on every homeowner in the Milwaukee school district.

As noted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the tax hike measure endorsed by Biden imposes the following tax hike:

If passed, the district's tax rate — the taxes owed per $1,000 of property value — would rise from $9.58 to $11.18. The average rate in Wisconsin is $9.37 for the 2019-20 school year.

A homeowner would see their taxes raised by $1.60 for every $1,000 of their home's value.

This means a typical homeowner in Milwaukee -- where home values averages $123,300, -- would  face a tax hike of $200 per year.

A homeowner with a house worth $300,000 would face a tax hike of $500 per year.

Biden went so far as to say that this is something that he would consider implementing on a national level.

According to a statement put out by his campaign:

"These are the ideas we'll build on in a Biden Administration —we'll triple funding for Title I schools and give teachers a raise, and replace Betsy DeVos with a Secretary of Education who's been in a public school classroom,"

Biden also wants to raise income taxes on middle class households by "eliminating" the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Biden's repeal would impose an annual tax hike of $2,000 on a median income family of four and a $1,300 annual tax hike on a single parent with one child.

Biden has endorsed a doubling of the capital gains tax -- to 40 percent -- for "every single solitary person."

Biden has endorsed tax hikes on the American people totaling about $4 trillion. See details at www.atr.org/HighTaxJoe

 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr


List: 171 Regulations Waived to Help Fight COVID-19

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Friday, April 3rd, 2020, 5:00 PM PERMALINK

The Trump administration and state and local governments are wisely suspending regulations to help fight the coronavirus.

Many of these rules and regulations were not necessary in the first place, given their tendency to reduce innovation and access to care, not to mention their restriction on American liberty.

Below is a list of suspended rules and regulations, starting with federal waivers, followed by state and local waivers. If you have another example to add, please send it to ideas@atr.org

Suspended federal rules and regulations:

FDA allows state leeway in virus testing 

"The FDA will allow states to take responsibility for tests developed and used by laboratories within their borders. The labs will not have to pursue Emergency Use Authorization from the agency, an emergency clearance that is normally required." - STAT News (3/16/20)

FDA loosens regulations on distribution of newly developed tests    

"Under certain circumstances, the agency will not object to any manufacturers that distribute newly developed tests before the FDA grants emergency clearance, and a similar stance will be taken toward labs that use these new tests." - STAT News (3/16/20)

EPA easing enforcement of environmental legal obligations

"The EPA will exercise the enforcement discretion specified below for noncompliance covered by this temporary policy and resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic...

The consequences of the pandemic may affect facility operations and the availability of key staff and contractors and the ability of laboratories to timely analyze samples and provide results. As a result, there may be constraints on the ability of a facility or laboratory to carry out certain activities required by our federal environmental permits, regulations, and statutes. These consequences may affect reporting obligations and milestones set forth in settlements and consent decrees. Finally, these consequences may affect the ability of an operation to meet enforceable limitations on air emissions and water discharges, requirements for the management of hazardous waste, or requirements to ensure and provide safe drinking water... The enforcement discretion described in this temporary policy do not apply to any criminal violations or conditions of probation in criminal sentences. Appropriate consideration of potential criminal liability is discussed separately." - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (3/26/20)

FDA issues emergency authorizations for several COVID-19 tests

"The CDC has granted a right of reference to the performance data contained in CDC's EUA request (FDA submission number EUA200001) to any entity seeking an FDA EUA for a COVID-19 diagnostic device."

So far, they have has issued dozens (and counting) emergency authorizations for COVID-19 tests. This includes Abbott Laboratories' portable coronavirus test and Bodysphere Inc.'s serological testing kit, that can detect a positive or negative result for COVID-19 in two minutes. Follow the link here to find the list. - U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2/29/20 - Present)

DOT provides hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief  

"This deregulatory action will allow greater flexibility for truck drivers transporting goods such as necessary medical supplies, testing equipment, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and food required for emergency restocking of stores." - Americans for Tax Reform (3/16/20)

Not all test kits required to be sent to a CDC lab    

"The administration removed a regulation that required all test kits to be sent to a CDC lab to be confirmed by federal authorities, a process that extended the wait times for patients to be notified about their results."  - Washington Examiner (3/13/20)

Allowance of licensed health care professionals to work in a different state from which they are licensed

The "requirements that physicians or other health care professionals hold licenses in the State in which they provide services, if they have an equivalent license from another State (and are not affirmatively barred from practice in that State or any State a part of which is included in the emergency area)" are being waived. - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (3/13/20)

TSA allowing hand sanitizer containers up to 12 ounces    

"TSA is allowing passengers to bring liquid hand sanitizer containers up to 12 ounces in carry-on bags until further notice. Passengers can expect that these containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids permitted through a checkpoint will need to be screened separately..." - Transportation Security Administration (3/13/20)

Loosening HIPAA requirements in order to expand telemedicine

In order to allow patients to more easily communicate with their providers, the Administration loosened the HIPAA requirements surrounding telemedicine. This important change allows doctors to see patients via commonly used apps like FaceTime and Skype that were previously non-HIPAA compliant. - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (3/17/20) 

Allowing out-of-state doctors to treat patients through telehealth    

"HHS Secretary Alex Azar waive certain laws to expand the use of telehealth, which public health experts say can help reduce risk of transmission. The new order appears to let Azar waive federal licensing requirements so out-of-state doctors can treat patients virtually in states with the greatest need." - Politico (3/13/20)  

Easing restrictions on online courses at colleges and universities

The Department of Education has moved to ease rules on colleges and universities who are shifting their classes online. There are a collection of rules being eased, not enforced. - Office of Postsecondary Education (3/5/20) 

Allowing distilled spirits permittees (DSPs) to produce hand sanitizer    

"Due to the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Acting Administrator of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has found that it is necessary or desirable to waive provisions of internal revenue law with regard to distilled spirits, and therefore is providing certain exemptions and authorizations to distilled spirits permittees who wish to produce ethanol-based hand sanitizers to address the demand for such products during this emergency." - Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (3/18/20)

The Small Business Administration relaxed criteria for disaster assistance loans, expanding small businesses’ access to economic assistance

"Faster, Easier Qualification Process for States Seeking SBA Disaster Assistance. Historically, the SBA has required that any state or territory impacted by disaster provide documentation certifying that at least five small businesses have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of a disaster, with at least one business located in each declared county/parish. Under the just-released, revised criteria, states or territories are only required to certify that at least five small businesses within the state/territory have suffered substantial economic injury, regardless of where those businesses are located." - Small Business Administration (3/17/20)

Tax deadline extended until July by the IRS

The Trump Administration has extended the tax deadline to allow more flexibility in filing during this chaotic time. Americans for Tax Reform still recommends that taxpayers file their returns as soon as possible. Most taxpayers get refunds, in total amounting to about $50B in refunds that could be injected into the economy now. Taxpayers should be encouraged to file their returns as soon as possible to get refunds NOW to help them recover.

"Income tax payment deadlines for individual returns, with a due date of April 15, 2020, are being automatically extended until July 15, 2020, for up to $1 million of their 2019 tax due."  - Internal Revenue Service (3/18/20)

FDA eases rules to increase ventilator production

"First, the guidance describes the agency’s intention to exercise enforcement discretion for certain modifications to these FDA-cleared devices. Normally, any time a manufacturer or user makes a modification to a ventilator device, for instance, adding wireless and/or Bluetooth capability for remote monitoring, those modifications can often trigger an FDA premarket review, which can delay the time it takes to get these devices to the bedside. The guidance also helps manufacturers ramp up their manufacturing by adding production lines or alternative sites, for instance, using non-medical device manufacturers such as automobile manufacturers, to start manufacturing ventilator parts....Second, as outlined in this guidance, hospitals and health care professionals may use ventilators intended for other environments... Finally, the agency encourages manufacturers, whether foreign or domestic, to talk to FDA about pursuing an emergency use authorization (EUA), which would allow them to distribute their ventilators in the United States." - U.S. Food and Drug Administration (3/22/20)

Puerto Rico and other territories allowed to acquire protective equipment (like masks) from non-U.S. sources

"Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave Puerto Rico and other territories the discretion to acquire personal protective equipment from non-U.S. sources… Previously, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia were obliged to purchase only U.S.-made personal protective equipment in accordance with the Buy American Act." - Reason (3/24/20)

FCC lends wireless internet service providers 5.9 GHz Spectrum to help them serve rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic

"The 60-day grant of special temporary authority (STA) for use of the lower 45 MHz of the band is to help them serve rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FCC said the grants will help with telehealth, distance learning and telework in rural communities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia." - Multichannel News (3/27/20)

Allows local ambulatory surgery centers to provide hospital services, helping those who need cancer procedures, trauma surgeries, and other essential surgeries receive care while elective surgeries are canceled

"CMS will allow communities to take advantage of local ambulatory surgery centers that have canceled elective surgeries, per federal recommendations. Surgery centers can contract with local healthcare systems to provide hospital services, or they can enroll and bill as hospitals during the emergency declaration as long as they are not inconsistent with their State’s Emergency Preparedness or Pandemic Plan. The new flexibilities will also leverage these types of sites to decant services typically provided by hospitals such as cancer procedures, trauma surgeries and other essential surgeries." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Allows non-hospital buildings and spaces to be used for patient care and quarantine sites

"CMS will now temporarily permit non-hospital buildings and spaces to be used for patient care and quarantine sites, provided that the location is approved by the State and ensures the safety and comfort of patients and staff. This will expand the capacity of communities to develop a system of care that safely treats patients without COVID-19, and isolate and treat patients with COVID-19." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Allows hospitals, laboratories, and other entities to perform tests for COVID-19 on people at home, in other community-based settings outside of the hospital, and, for emergency departments, at drive-through and off-campus test sites

"CMS will allow hospitals, laboratories, and other entities to perform tests for COVID-19 on people at home and in other community-based settings outside of the hospital. This will both increase access to testing and reduce risks of exposure. The new guidance allows healthcare systems, hospitals, and communities to set up testing sites exclusively for the purpose of identifying COVID-19-positive patients in a safe environment. In addition, CMS will allow hospital emergency departments to test and screen patients for COVID-19 at drive-through and off-campus test sites." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Allows ambulances to transport patients to a wider range of locations

"During the public health emergency, ambulances can transport patients to a wider range of locations when other transportation is not medically appropriate. These destinations include community mental health centers, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), physician’s offices, urgent care facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, and any locations furnishing dialysis services when an ESRD facility is not available." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Physician-owned hospitals can temporarily increase the number of their licensed beds, operating rooms, and procedure rooms

"Physician-owned hospitals can temporarily increase the number of their licensed beds, operating rooms, and procedure rooms. For example, a physician-owned hospital may temporarily convert observation beds to inpatient beds to accommodate patient surge during the public health emergency." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Hospitals allowed to bill for services at off-site treatment

"In addition, hospitals can bill for services provided outside their four walls. Emergency departments of hospitals can use telehealth services to quickly assess patients to determine the most appropriate site of care, freeing emergency space for those that need it most. New rules ensure that patients can be screened at alternate treatment and testing sites which are not subject to the Emergency Medical Labor and Treatment Act (EMTALA) as long as the national emergency remains in force. This will allow hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) to screen patients at a location offsite from the hospital’s campus to prevent the spread of COVID-19." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Allows hospitals and healthcare systems to increase their workforce capacity by removing barriers for physicians, nurses, and other clinicians to be readily hired from the local community

"Local private practice clinicians and their trained staff may be available for temporary employment since nonessential medical and surgical services are postponed during the public health emergency. CMS’s temporary requirements allow hospitals and healthcare systems to increase their workforce capacity by removing barriers for physicians, nurses, and other clinicians to be readily hired from the local community as well as those licensed from other states without violating Medicare rules." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Allows non-physician practitioners (physician assistants, nurse practitioners) a wider scope of practice, like ordering tests and medications

"CMS is issuing waivers so that hospitals can use other practitioners, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners, to the fullest extent possible, in accordance with a state’s emergency preparedness or pandemic plan. These clinicians can perform services such as order tests and medications that may have previously required a physician’s order where this is permitted under state law." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Waives the requirement that certified registered nurse anesthetists be under the supervision of a physician

"CMS is waiving the requirements that a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is under the supervision of a physician. This will allow CRNAs to function to the fullest extent allowed by the state, and free up physicians from the supervisory requirement and expand the capacity of both CRNAs and physicians." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Allows hospitals to provide benefits and support to their medical staffs

"CMS also is issuing a blanket waiver to allow hospitals to provide benefits and support to their medical staffs, such as multiple daily meals, laundry service for personal clothing, or child care services while the physicians and other staff are at the hospital and engaging in activities that benefit the hospital and its patients." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Eliminating some paperwork requirements, allowing clinicians to spend more time with patients

"CMS is temporarily eliminating paperwork requirements and allowing clinicians to spend more time with patients. Medicare will now cover respiratory-related devices and equipment for any medical reason determined by clinicians so that patients can get the care they need; previously Medicare only covered them under certain circumstances." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Hospitals not required to have written policies on processes and visitation of patients who are in COVID-19 isolations; will allow hospitals more time to provide patients and medical record

"During the public health emergency, hospitals will not be required to have written policies on processes and visitation of patients who are in COVID-19 isolation. Hospitals will also have more time to provide patients a copy of their medical record." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Providing temporary relief from many audit and reporting requirements

"CMS is providing temporary relief from many audit and reporting requirements so that providers, healthcare facilities, Medicare Advantage health plans, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, and states can focus on providing needed care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries affected by COVID-19." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Allows more services to be furnished via telehealth

"Building on prior action to expand reimbursement for telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries, CMS will now allow for more than 80 additional services to be furnished via telehealth. During the public health emergencies, individuals can use interactive apps with audio and video capabilities to visit with their clinician for an even broader range of services. Providers also can evaluate beneficiaries who have audio phones only." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Allows providers to bill for telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits

"Providers can bill for telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits. Telehealth visits include emergency department visits, initial nursing facility and discharge visits, home visits, and therapy services, which must be provided by a clinician that is allowed to provide telehealth. New as well as established patients now may stay at home and have a telehealth visit with their provider." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

Remote patient monitoring services can now be provided to those with only one disease

"CMS is making it clear that clinicians can provide remote patient monitoring services to patients with acute and chronic conditions, and can be provided for patients with only one disease. For example, remote patient monitoring can be used to monitor a patient’s oxygen saturation levels using pulse oximetry." - Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (3/30/20)

FDA issues emergency authorization of anti-malaria drug for coronavirus care

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to BARDA to allow hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products donated to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to be distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible." - Department of Health and Human Services (3/29/20)

Suspended state rules and regulations:

Alabama - Allowance for the curbside sale of alcoholic beverages

"Officials in Alabama have signed an emergency order to allow for the sale of alcoholic beverages curbside at licensed businesses in the state." - WBRC (3/17/20)

Alabama - Allows for prescriptions to be filled for longer than 30 days

"Due to the ongoing threat of coronavirus, the Alabama Board of Pharmacy is allowing pharmacists to process emergency refills on essential medications." - WHNT (3/16/20) 

Arizona - Expanding scope of practice for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists

"Governor Ducey notified the Center For Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of his decision to exempt the State of Arizona from a federal regulation requiring Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) to be supervised by a physician. The reform will expand access to care, especially in rural areas, and free up physicians for other needed medical services." - Office of Governor Doug Ducey (3/24/20)

Arizona - Expanding licensing opportunities by helping licensed professionals in the state stay licensed and deferring certain requirements for six months

"Under the Executive Order, state agencies and boards will defer requirements to renew licenses that have an expiration date between March 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020 by six months from the expiration date, unless those requirements can be completed online. Additionally, they will defer requirements to complete continuing education by six months, unless those requirements can be completed online." - Office of Governor Doug Ducey (3/26/20)

Arkansas - Lifting restrictions on telehealth law, which required an in-person encounter to establish a professional relationship

"To fully leverage telehealth in Arkansas and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, I am suspending the provisions… requiring an in-person encounter, or a face to face examination using real time audio and visual means to establish a professional relationship. Physicians licensed in Arkansas who have access to a patient's personal health record maintained by a physician may establish a professional relationship with a patient using any technology deemed appopriate by the provider... with a citizen located in Arkansas to diagnose, treat and if clinically appropriate, prescribe a non-controlled drug to that patient." - Office of Governor Asa Hutchinson (3/24/20)

California - Waiving licensing and staffing requirements with respect to clinics, adult day health care, hospice, and mobile health care units

"For the duration of the declared emergency, waive any of the licensing and staffing requirements of chapters 1, 3.3, 8.5, and 9 of division 2 of the Health and Safety Code and any accompanying regulations with respect to any clinic, adult day health care, hospice, or mobile health care unit. Any waiver shall include alternative measures that, under the circumstances, will allow the clinic, adult day health care, hospice, or mobile health care unit to assist in the care or protect the health of individuals while protecting public health and safety." - Office of Governor Gavin Newsom (3/21/20)

California - Noise limitations suspended if they restrict delivery of food, pharmaceuticals, and other emergency necessities

"Any local ordinance, including those relating to noise limitations, is suspended to the extent it restricts, delays, or otherwise inhibits the delivery of food products, pharmaceuticals, and other emergency necessities distributed through grocery stores and other retail or institutional channels, including, but not limited to, hospitals, jails, restaurants, and schools." - Office of Governor Gavin Newsom (3/21/20)

California - Allows Department of State Hospitals to waive any provisions or requirements that impede ability to care for mental or behavioral health conditions

"To ensure that patients with mental or behavioral health conditions continue to receive the services and support they need, notwithstanding disruptions caused by COVID-19; and to protect the health, safety and welfare of patients with mental or behavioral health conditions committed to the State Department of State Hospitals facilities, as defined by Welfare and Institutions Code Sections 4100 and 7200; the Director of the State Department of State Hospitals may issue directives waiving any provision or requirement of the Welfare and Institutions Code; any provision or requirement of the Penal Code that affects the execution of laws relating to care, custody, and treatment of persons with mental illness committed to or in the custody of the State Department State Hospitals." - Office of Governor Gavin Newsom (3/21/20)

California - Extending tax deadlines, refund deadlines, and license renewals

"The executive order allows the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) to offer a 90-day extension for tax returns and tax payments for all businesses filing a return for less than $1 million in taxes. That means small businesses will have until the end of July to file their first-quarter returns. Additionally, the order extends the statute of limitations to file a claim for refund by 60 days to accommodate tax and fee payers. The executive order also includes extensions that impact state government workers, as well as consumers. For instance, the Department of Motor Vehicles will limit in-person transactions for the next 60 days, allowing instead for mail-in renewals. Additionally, the Department of Consumer Affairs will waive continuing education requirements for several professions, also for the next 60 days. Further, the order will extend the Office of Administrative Law’s deadlines to review regular department proposed regulations. The order also extends by 60 days the time period to complete investigation of public safety officers based on allegations of misconduct. Finally, deadlines for trainings, investigations, and adverse actions for state workers will also be extended." - Office of Governor Gavin Newsom (3/30/20)

California - Departments may waive any professional licensing and certification requirements to expand scopes of care

"To the extent necessary and only for the duration of the declared emergency, waive any of the professional licensing and certification requirements and amend scopes of practice of chapters 2, 2.35, and 8 of division 2 of the Health and Safety Code and any accompanying regulations with respect to certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and nursing home administrators, and chapter 3, division 2 of the Business and Professions Code and accompanying regulations with respect to certified hemodialysis technicians." - Office of Governor Gavin Newsom (3/30/20)

Colorado - Expedited medical licensing

"Governor Polis said he would order the state to expedite licensing of new medical professionals and asked medical professionals who might be retired or are in a different profession to reconnect with their prior employer to supplement the state’s health cares systems if and when medical professionals are diagnosed with COVID-19." - CPR News (3/13/20)

Colorado - Interstate reciprocity for health care licenses

"In order to scale up our health care workforce capacity, I have asked the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies to cut through the red tape on licensing our medical professionals so that medical professionals - including pharmacists, nurses, doctors - who are licensed in other states but residing here can be immediately licensed in Colorado as quickly as possible to address this shortage." - Office of Governor Jared Polis (3/13/20)

Colorado - Deregulatory efforts for drivers' licensing and vehicle registration

Governor Polis closed the state’s DMVs, waived the restriction on online renewals for residents 65 and older, and permitted counties to waive late fees and renewals for vehicle registration. - Office of Governor Jared Polis (3/2020)

Connecticut - Office of Health Strategy to waive Certificates of Need

"Authorizes the Office of Health Strategy to waive Certificates of Need and other requirements to ensure adequate availability of healthcare resources and facilities." - Office of Governor Ned Lamont (3/14/20)

Connecticut - Waives certain easily childhood care licensing requirements

"Governor Lamont signed his third executive order since the enactment of the emergency declarations earlier this week. The order issued... authorizes the Commissioner of Early Childhood to waive certain licensing and other requirements to maintain and increase the availability of childcare…" - Office of Governor Ned Lamont (3/14/20)

Connecticut - Easing regulations on pharmacist procedure

"Governor Lamont today signed his third executive order since the enactment of the emergency declarations earlier this week. The order issued... waives requirements for pharmacists to use certain personal protective equipment when working with non-hazardous, sterile compounds." - Office of Governor Ned Lamont (3/14/20)

Connecticut - Allows pharmacists to make and sell hand sanitizer

"Governor Lamont today signed his third executive order since the enactment of the emergency declarations earlier this week. The order issued… allows pharmacists to compound and sell hand sanitizer." - Office of Governor Ned Lamont (3/14/20)

Connecticut - Established interstate reciprocity for health care licenses

"Permits physicians, nurses, respiratory care practitioners, emergency medical services personnel, and other health care practitioners who are licensed in another state to provide temporary assistance in Connecticut for a period of 60 days." - Connecticut’s Commissioner of the Department of Public Health (3/23/20)

Connecticut - Suspension of Tax on Single-Use Checkout Bags

"Temporary Suspension of Tax on Single-Use Checkout Bags. All provisions of Section 355 of Public Act 19-117, as codified in Section 22a246a of the 2020 Supplement to the Connecticut General Statutes, regarding single-use plastic checkout bags, are temporarily suspended through May 15, 2020, unless earlier modified, extended, or terminated by me. The Commissioner of Revenue Services shall issue any implementing order he deems necessary, and any guidance for businesses on accounting or other necessary measures during this temporary suspension." - Office of Governor Ned Lamont (3/26/20)

Connecticut - Extending the tax deadline

"Extension of deadline to file income and expense statement to August 15: Allows taxpayers additional time to complete their income and expense statements." - Office of Governor Ned Lamont (4/1/20)

Florida  - Customer service representatives allowed to work remotely

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis issued a directive allowing Florida agency customer service representatives, who would normally be restricted from conducting business outside of a licensed agency, to work remotely. - Florida Department of Financial Services (3/17/20)

Florida - Interstate reciprocity for health care licenses

"For purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, health care professionals, advanced life support professionals, and basic life support professionals holding a valid, unrestricted, and unencumbered license in any state, territory, and/or district may render such services in Florida during a period not to exceed thirty days unless extended by order of the State Surgeon General, if such health care practitioner does not represent or hold themselves out as a health care practitioner licensed to practice in Florida." - State Surgeon General Scott A. Rivkees, Executive Order (3/16/20) ​​​​

Florida - Out-of-state health care professionals may use telehealth to care for patients in Florida

"For purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, health care professionals not licensed in this state may provide health care services to a patient licensed in this state using telehealth…" - State Surgeon General Scott A. Rivkees, Executive Order (3/16/20)

Florida - Emergency medical services training programs may use remote instruction and simulations

"For purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, emergency medical services training programs may, with the approval ofthe training program medical director, substitute supervised remote live videoconferencing or simulation for one-half of the supervised clinical instruction hours and one-half of the supervised field internship hours required by section 401.2701, Florida Statutes, and applicable rules.​" - State Surgeon General Scott A Rivkees, Executive Order (3/16/20)

Florida - Physicians may issue a physician certification for the medical use of marijuana without a physical examination

"For purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, qualified physicians under section 381.986, Florida Statutes [medical use of marijuana], may issue a physician certification only for an existing qualified patient with an existing certification that was issued by that qualified physician without the need to conduct a physical examination while physically present in the same room as the patient." - State Surgeon General Scott A Rivkees, Executive Order (3/16/20)

Florida - Controlled substance prescribing practitioners may issue a renewal prescription by the use of telehealth services

"For purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, physicians, osteopathic physicians, physician assistants, and advanced practice registered nurses licensed in Florida that have designated themselves as a controlled substance prescribing practitioner pursuant to section 456.44, may issue a renewal prescription for a controlled substance listed as Schedule II, Schedule III, or Schedule IV under chapter 893 only for an existing patient for the purpose of treating chronic nonmalignant pain without the need to conduct a physical examination of the patient. These practitioners may only substitute telehealth services for the physical examination." - State Surgeon General Scott A Rivkees, Executive Order (3/16/20)

Florida - All rules that would limit distribution, dispensing, or administration of otherwise legitimate prescription drugs are suspended

"For the purposes of preparing for, responding to, and mitigating any effect of COVID-19, the provisions of chapters 499 and 465, Florida Statutes, and rules promulgated thereunder, that if applied, would operate to limit distribution, dispensing, or administration of otherwise legitimate prescription drugs in a manner that could hinder, prevent, or delay mitigation of any health-related condition are suspended for a period of thirty days, unless extended."- State Surgeon General Scott A Rivkees, Executive Order (3/16/20)

Georgia - Allowing charity to provide food to students in need

"Despite the selfless services that MUST Ministries provides, last year, government regulators stepped in and informed the charity that they can longer run the summer lunch program in the manner that they were accustomed.... Thanks to coronavirus, schools are temporarily closed across Georgia to contain COVID-19’s spread. The negative byproduct of this is that many underserved children, who would otherwise receive school lunches, now risk going hungry. To the government’s credit, schools are planning to somehow provide kids these lunches. According to 11Alive News, “To continue to support Cobb students while schools are closed, the Cobb County School District is partnering with MUST Ministries to provide food to students in need.”" - All On Georgia (3/19/20)

Indiana - Waives certificate of need requirements for nursing homes

"The State Health Commissioner is authorized to waive the requirements of the nursing home certificate of need statute, as the Commissioner deems necessary to respond to COVID-19 issues for nursing homes and on terms and conditions appropriate for each situation." - Office of Governor Eric Holcomb (3/19/20)

Indiana - Temporary blanket waivers or comprehensive care facilities

A series of executive orders grant dozens of waivers for paper work requirements, training requirements, personnel testing requirements, etc. for comprehensive care facilities. - Office of Governor Eric Holcomb (3/2020)

Indiana - Waives requirements for pre-approval of care spaces

"Waives requirement of pre-approval for hospitals converting non-isolation rooms to isolation rooms, so long as they send notice to ISDH and request an inspection. Waives requirement of pre-approval for hospitals converting unused or unlicensed space to temporary patient rooms. Specifies that room and units previously approved but not in current use may be operationalized without review or inspection." - Office of Governor Eric Holcomb (3/21/20) 

Iowa - Reduced number of hours of experience needed for medical students to obtain a license if the higher education institution approves

"I temporarily suspend the regulatory provisions... to the extent that they require a minimum number of hours of field experience if the higher education institution providing practitioner preparation program determines that the student has completed sufficient field experience to determine that the student should be recommended for licensure." - Office of Governor Kim Reynolds (3/17/20)

Iowa - Temporary medical licenses to be granted to assist with COVID-19 response for individuals who held a license within the last five years, but is currently inactive

"I temporarily suspend the regulatory provisions... implementing administrative rules which prohibit the practice of medicine and surgery, osteopathic medicine and surgery, nursing, respiratory care, and practice as a physician assistant, by a licensee whose license is inactive or lapsed.  Suspension of these provisions is limited to licenses which have lapsed or expired within the five (5) years prior to this Proclamation..." - Office of Governor Kim Reynolds (3/17/20)

Louisiana - Expansion of access to Telehealth Services

"The requirement… that each state agency or professional or occupational licensing board or commission that regulates the practice of a healthcare provider promulgate any rules necessary to provide for, promote, or regulate the use of telehealth in the delivery of healthcare services within the scope of proactive regulated by the licensing entity is hereby suspended during the term of this emergency declaration." - Office of Governor John Bel Edwards (3/19/20)

Louisiana - Loosened regulations on ambulance staffing requirements

"The ambulance staffing requirements set forth in R.S. 40:1135.1 (A)(2)(a) are hereby temporarily suspended as to ambulance drivers, provided that such driver possesses a driver's license valid in the State of Louisiana and meets the criminals background check requirements…"  - Office of Governor John Bel Edwards (3/19/20)

Louisiana - Loosened staffing requirements for lab personnel

"The licensing and certification requirements for Louisiana Clinical Laboratory Personnel set forth… including any requirements for criminal background checks be temporarily suspended for those laboratory personnel conducting COVID-19 testing who demonstrate molecular biology polymerase chain reaction (PCR) experience and/or for those who demonstrate serological experience in testing clinical samples... " - Office of Governor John Bel Edwards (3/19/20)

Louisiana - Online lab simulations allowed to substitute for classroom instruction and in-person clinicals

"All Public Post-secondary institutions and proprietary schools within the state of Louisiana that are licensed by the Louisiana Board of Regents shall be allowed to substitute in-person clinical and classroom instruction with online and lab simulations for enrolled students..." - Office of Governor John Bel Edwards (3/19/20)

Louisiana - Temporary permits for medical professionals

"The added language in sections 3329 and 4513 will address the public health emergency crisis that is taking place in Louisiana. In Chapter 33, section 3329 the board may extend the expiration of temporary permits for new graduates who have been unable to take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam or reinstate an expired permit during a public health emergency." - Louisiana Department of Health, Board of Nursing (3/2020)

Louisiana - Delayed tax collection and deadline

The order extends the sales tax returns and excise tax returns deadline to May 20, 2020.

"The purpose of this guidance is to provide filing and payment extension relief for certain taxes due on March 20, 2020." - Louisiana Department of Revenue (3/19/20)

Maine - Plastic bag ban suspended

Emergency legislation pushes back the effective date of the statewide plastic bag ban from April 22 to Jan. 15, 2021. - Maine Legislature (3/18/20)

Maine - Easing restrictions on physician assistants' ability to provide care

LD 1660 expanded the ability of physician assistants to provide health care, reducing the regulatory burden on health care providers, adjusting licensing rules, and making it easier to hire physician assistants. - Maine Legislature (3/17/20)

Maryland - Established interstate reciprocity for health care licenses

"Prior to this new rule, state regulation was such that only people with health care licenses issued by the state could practice in Maryland." - Office of Governor Larry Hogan (3/16/20)

Maryland - Inactive practitioners allowed to practice

"Any inactive practitioner may, at a health care facility in Maryland, engage in activities that would have been authorized under his/her inactive license without first reinstating his/her inactive license." - Office of Governor Larry Hogan (3/16/20)

Maryland - Removing limits on purchases of alcohol

"Maryland has removed limits on purchases of craft beer and distilled spirits purchased at tap and tasting rooms for the duration of the governor’s state of emergency, Comptroller Peter Franchot announced Wednesday." - Washington Post (3/18/20)

Massachusetts - Allowance of some pharmacies to make hand sanitizer

Governor Baker has allowed certain licensed pharmacists to make hand sanitizer to address state shortages. - Biz Journals (3/12/20) 

Massachusetts - Licensed medical workers able to get Mass. licenses in one day

Gov. Baker is now allowing licensed medical workers from other states to get a Massachusetts license in one day. - New England Public Radio (3/15/20)

Massachusetts  - Allowance of expanded telemedicine

"In an urgent response to the coronavirus threat, the state medical board voted to let doctors treat more patients online, made it easier for them to practice at multiple hospitals, and vowed to speed up the licensing of medical school graduates." - Boston Globe (3/16/20)

Massachusetts - Doctors given more ability to treat patients

"The new rule approved by the board makes it explicit that a doctor can treat a patient whom he or she has never seen in person as long as the physician considers it best for the patient during the health crisis." - Boston Globe (3/16/20)    

Massachusetts - Local bans on plastic bags lifted

"Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has… lifted local bans on plastic bags at grocery stores and pharmacies as part of his administration's latest steps to limit the spread of the coronavirus." - Boston Business Journal (3/25/20)

Michigan - DHHS loosens certificate of need requirements

"Effective immediately and continuing through April 14, 2020 at 11:59 pm, the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) may issue an emergency certificate of need to an applicant and defer strict compliance with the procedural requirements of section 22235 of the Public Health Code, 1978 PA 368, as amended, MCL 333.22235, until the termination of the state of emergency under section 3 of Executive Order 2020-4." - Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer (3/18/20)

Michigan - Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs allowed to grant a waiver for rules that previously limited the number of hospital beds and mobile health care facilities

"Effective immediately and continuing through April 14, 2020 at 11:59 pm, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (“LARA”) may grant a waiver under section 21564 of the Public Health Code, 1978 PA 368, as amended, MCL 333.21564, to any licensed hospital in this state, regardless of number of beds or location, for the purpose of providing care during the COVID-19 emergency, to construct, acquire, or operate a temporary or mobile facility for any health care purpose, regardless of where the facility is located." - Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer (3/18/20)

Michigan - Non-nursing assistants allowed to give a broader scope of care

"Effective immediately and continuing through April 14, 2020 at 11:59 pm, Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs may allow a non-nursing assistant such as an activity coordinator, social worker, or volunteer to help feed or transport a patient or resident in a manner consistent with the patient’s or resident’s care plan." - Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer (3/18/20)

Michigan - Allows certified nursing aides to treat patients when needed, with the same autonomy as certified nurses

"Effective immediately and continuing through April 14, 2020 at 11:59 pm, Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) may issue a temporary registration as a certified nurse aide to an applicant, regardless of whether the applicant demonstrates to LARA that they have successfully completed the examination requirements of sections 21911 and 21913 of the Public Health Code, 1978 PA 368, as amended, MCL 333.21911 and MCL 333.21913." - Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer (3/18/20)

Michigan - Temporary extension of deadline to redeem property for nonpayment of delinquent property taxes

"Strict compliance with subsection (3) of section 78g of the General Property Tax Act (“GPTA”), 1893 PA 206, as amended, MCL 211.78g(3), is temporarily suspended. As a result, the deadline by which property forfeited to a county treasurer must be redeemed is extended from March 31, 2020 until the later of (a) May 29, 2020, or (b) 30 days after the termination of the state of emergency under section 3 of Executive Order 2020-4." - Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer (3/2020)

Mississippi - Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure to lift restrictions that will help reduce doctor-patient contact and allow telemedicine

"The state is allowing phone calls to count as a visit with the doctor so that those prescriptions can be refilled without an actual person to person visit." - WDAM (3/16/20) 

Mississippi - Allowing out of state physicians to practice telemedicine without being licensed in Mississippi

"The licensure board is allowing out of state physicians to practice telemedicine without being licensed here, as long as they contact the board for authorization, are licensed and in good standing where they practice." - WDAM (3/16/20) 

Missouri - Waiving requirement that physicians have established relationship with patient before providing telehealth services

"During this event, the Missouri HealthNet Division is: Waiving the requirement that physicians must have an established relationship with the patient before providing services via telehealth." - Missouri Department of Social Services (3/23/20)

Missouri - Out-of-state health care professionals may use telehealth to care for patients

"During this event, the Missouri HealthNet Division is: Waiving the requirement that, in order to treat patients in this state with telemedicine or telehealth, health care providers shall be fully licensed to practice in this state. MHD will allow providers to bill for telehealth services as long as they are licensed in the state in which they practice." - Missouri Department of Social Services (3/23/20)

Missouri - Prescribers may issue requests for Durable Medical Equipment (DME) over the phone/over face-time

"Effective immediately, prescribers seeking requests and/or renewal of Durable Medical Equipment (DME) items via Exceptions, Pre-Certification, and/or Prior Authorization may utilize face-time and/or telephone calls in place of a face-to-face office visit." - Missouri Department of Social Services (3/23/20)

Nebraska - Extending the tax deadline

"The State of Nebraska is providing this same income tax relief to state income taxpayers. The tax filing deadline will automatically be extended to July 15, 2020 for state income tax payments and estimated payments that were originally due on April 15, 2020.  Nebraskans who are able to pay earlier are encouraged to do so to help the State manage its cash flow." - Office of Governor Pete Ricketts (3/23/20)

Nebraska - Allowing takeout for mixed drinks with lids

Our restaurants and bars have been some of the hardest hit businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “I've signed an executive order to help them by allowing takeout for pre-made cocktails and other alcoholic beverages as long as they are sealed with a lid.” - Office of Governor Pete Ricketts (3/26/20)

Nebraska - Expanding access to childcare options

"The order is intended to activate nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and schools to help provide the care families need now.  It eases the licensing requirements to open and operate a temporary, non-residential child care in an alternative setting.  The executive order is effective immediately and will remain in place until 30 days after the State lifts the current COVID-19 state of emergency." - Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Nebraska - Waiving certain hauling requirements for truckers

Gov. Ricketts is "waiving certain hauling requirements for truckers delivering food and supplies, such as food products to grocery stores." - Office of Governor Pete Ricketts (3/13/20)

Nebraska - Authorizes the credentialing of retired of inactive health professionals

"The Governor’s order authorizes the credentialing of retired or inactive health professionals who wish to serve Nebraskans during the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) emergency." - Office of Governor Pete Ricketts (3/27/20)

Nebraska - Defers requirements for healthcare providers to pay initial licensing fees, completing continuing education

The order "defers the requirements for healthcare providers to pay initial licensing fees or to complete continuing education." - Office of Governor Pete Ricketts (3/27/20)

Nebraska - Interstate reciprocity for health care licenses

"Additionally, the Governor is temporarily waiving the restrictions on licensed out-of-state medical professionals working in Nebraska." - Office of Governor Pete Ricketts (3/27/20)

Nebraska - Suspends limitations on number of physician assistants that can be supervised by one physician

"The executive order temporarily suspends the limitations on the number of physician assistants that a physician may supervise." - Office of Governor Pete Ricketts (3/27/20)

New Hampshire - Allowing for take-out or delivery beer or wine

"Temporary authorization for take-out or delivery beer or wine. All restaurants, diners, bars, saloons, private clubs or any other establishment that have both a restaurant license and on premise license from the New Hampshire liquor commission shall be temporarily authorized to allow for takeout or delivery of beer or wine." - Office of Governor Sununu (3/18/20)

New Hampshire - Expansion of access to Telehealth Services

"All medical providers shall be allowed to perform health care services through the use of all modes of teleheatlh, including video and audio, audio-only, or other electronic media, to treat the residents of the state of NH for all medically necessary services." - Office of Governor Sununu (3/18/20)

New Jersey - Reactivating health care licenses of those previously licensed (in the last five years)

"Authorizing the Division of Consumer Affairs to temporarily reactivate the licensees of healthcare professionals previously licensed in the State within the last five years. This will enable doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who have recently retired or have allowed their licenses to lapse to temporarily reactivate their license." - Office of Governor Phil Murphy (4/1/20)

New Jersey - Granting temporary medical licenses to doctors licensed in foreign countries

"Authorizing the Division of Consumer Affairs to grant temporary medical licenses to doctors who are licensed and in good standing in foreign countries." - Office of Governor Phil Murphy (4/1/20)

New Jersey - Expanding scope of practice for Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs)

"Temporarily waiving certain scope of practice restrictions on Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) related to physician collaboration, including a rule requiring that an APN enter into a joint protocol with a collaborating physician and a rule requiring APNs to obtain authorization from a collaborating physician in order to dispense narcotic drugs.New Jersey    Expanding scope of practice for Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs)    Temporarily waiving certain scope of practice restrictions on Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) related to physician collaboration, including a rule requiring that an APN enter into a joint protocol with a collaborating physician and a rule requiring APNs to obtain authorization from a collaborating physician in order to dispense narcotic drugs." - Office of Governor Phil Murphy (4/1/20)

New Jersey - Expanding scope of practice for Physician Assistants (PAs)

"Temporarily waiving certain scope of practice restrictions on Physician Assistants (PAs) related to physician supervision, including a rule requiring PAs to obtain physician authorization prior to prescribing a controlled dangerous substance." - Office of Governor Phil Murphy (4/1/20)

New Jersey - Allowing nurses to conduct evaluations of elderly by phone or video-chat

"In a temporary rule waiver adopted today, the Division is now allowing supervising nurses to conduct required plan-of-care evaluations by phone or video-chat instead of in person. The change guards against the spread of COVID-19 from healthcare workers to elderly and medically fragile individuals by making in-person supervisory visits, which typically occur at least every 60 days, unnecessary." - Office of Governor Phil Murphy (3/30/20)

New Jersey - Expansion of access to Telehealth Services

"The Governor directed departments to identify opportunities to support broader access and departments have identified opportunities to do so, including the waiving of co-pays, allowing the use of telephonic telehealth and tele-mental health services, allowing patients to use services from the comfort of their own homes, and increasing flexibility in the technological platforms used to deliver services and more." - Office of Governor Phil Murphy (3/22/20)

New Mexico - Increasing oversize loads to 88,000 pounds for relief delivery

"I direct the New Mexico Department of Transportation to create a streamlined process for Emergency Expedited Special Permits (EESP) that would allow overweight vehicles and loads that can be easily dismantled or divided to travel in New Mexico with a total gross weight with load up to eighty-eight thousand (88,000) pounds... To be eligible for an EESP, the applicant's vehicle and load must be primarily delivering relief supples." - Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (4/1/20)

New York - Restaurants and bars allowed to sell all forms of alcohol to-go

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that as part of the new state-mandated take-out and delivery-only rule, restaurants and bars would also be allowed to sell all forms of alcohol to-go. - New York State Liquor Authority (3/17/20)

New York - Plastic bag ban suspended

"New York won’t enforce it’s recently enacted plastic bag ban for another two months, the state announced this week... pushing back the enforcement date from April 1 to May 15. While the ban went into effect at the beginning of March, the enforcement was delayed due to a suit brought on by New York businesses who argue they had little time to prepare. The suit is essentially on hold as the courts prioritize cases amid the coronavirus crisis and critics claim the ban is a health risk. Industry groups called the move a blessing for retailers as well as customers who are worried about using reusable bags at a time when contamination is a key concern." - NY Daily News (3/19/20)

New York - Suspension of Certificate on Need Laws for hospitals

Hospitals no longer need to seek the state’s approval before making changes to their "physical plants," like temporarily increasing their bed capacities. - Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo (3/19/20)

New York - Suspending laws mandating which cleaning products schools and the state may purchase

Laws that mandate that the only cleaning products that schools and the state can purchase are those that “minimize adverse impacts on children’s health and the environment” was suspended. Similarly, the procurement guidelines on buying these products have been relaxed. - Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo (3/19/20)

New York - Criminal background checks for child care providers suspended

A law mandating that child care providers undergo criminal background checks has been suspended. - Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo (3/19/20)

New York - Easing regulations on day care facilities

"Twenty-one other sections of Social Services regulations and a couple of sections of Social Services law dealing with day care have been put on ice. These suspensions will end capacity limits for day care facilities, let children of any age attend them and eliminate mandatory staffing minimums." - Politico (3/19/20)

New York - Construction, building code, and conservation laws relaxed when creating new hospitals, renovating hospitals

"Every state or local law dealing with construction, energy conservation, or building codes can be suspended by the Commissioner of Health when creating new hospitals or extensions to existing ones." - Politico (3/19/20)

New York - Expansion of COVID-19 testing abilities

"The Commissioner of Health will be able to establish a new training program that will let individuals who are not currently registered as nurses engage in tasks that one currently needs to be licensed for. They’ll be able to “collect throat or nasopharyngeal swab specimens” from potentially infected individuals and will generally be able to perform all other tasks “otherwise limited to the scope of practice of a licensed or registered nurse” as long as they’re being supervised by a nurse... People who are not licensed in the state as clinical laboratory technicians, but do “meet the federal requirements for high complexity testing,” will be allowed to preform Covid-19 tests. Doctors and nurse practitioners will be able to give nurses blanket authority to perform Covid-19 tests without supervision." - Politico (3/19/20)

New York - Allows individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by staff of the opposite sex

"Individuals with disabilities will no longer need to be “accompanied by same gender staff” while being transported from state facilities. This will “permit providers to utilize staff members in the most effective means possible.”" - Politico (3/19/20)

New York - Established interstate reciprocity for health care licenses

"Physicians who are licensed anywhere in the country are now able to practice in New York without getting a state license. The same goes for other health care licensees. "  - Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo (3/19/20)

New York - Expansion of access to Telehealth Services

"Every state law and rule dealing with telemedicine is suspended to make it easier for remote visits to occur." - Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo (3/19/20)

New York - Relaxed the approval process for administering a drug outside of the "state's preferred list"

The approval process needed for giving a patient a drug that’s not on the state’s preferred list is suspended “to the extent necessary to allow patients to receive prescribed drugs, without delay.” Also, a law that requires managed care providers to consult with prescribers before deciding whether to cover some drugs was suspended. - Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo (3/19/20)

New York - Loosened limits on what kind of vehicles can be driven in the state

Some limits on what kinds of vehicles can be on New York roads have been suspended, to let those “validly registered in other jurisdictions” participate in response efforts. - Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo (3/19/20)

North Carolina - Lifted "Certificate of Need" law regarding hospital beds

"North Carolina temporarily lifted a regulation requiring hospitals to get state permission to add beds. The rule said hospitals couldn’t add more than 10% of their licensed bed capacity without state approval... Applying for a CON can cost as much as $500,000, and the state board which grants CONs doesn’t meet for months." - The Tribune Papers (3/15/20)

North Dakota - Identifying regulatory burden in state agencies

Burgum ordered state agencies to identify "any state laws, rules or regulations that hinder or delay their ability to render maximum assistance or continue to deliver essential services to citizens during the COVID-19 crisis. State elected officials and other executive branch offices were invited to do the same."  - Office of Governor Doug Burgum (3/20/20)

North Dakota - Expansion of access to Telehealth Services

Burgum suspended several regulatory and statutory requirements in order to "allow for expanded telehealth services in North Dakota as residents practice social distancing and medical facilities try to limit in-person visits to slow the spread of COVID-19." - Office of Governor Doug Burgum (3/20/20)

North Dakota - Recognition of expired licenses and registrations

"The... executive order requires law enforcement agencies and private sector businesses to recognize any North Dakota driver’s license or motor vehicle registration that expired on or after March 1, 2020, as valid and current as long as the executive order is in effect." - Office of Governor Doug Burgum (3/20/20)

North Dakota - Loosening regulatory requirements for hospital and health care facilities

"The licensing requirements for hospitals and other health care facilities… and all related provisions under the North Dakota Administrative Code are hereby suspended…"- Office of Governor Doug Burgum (3/20/20)

Ohio - Permanently expanded the duties of certified registered nurse anesthetists

The Ohio legislature permanently expanded the duties of certified registered nurse anesthetists to include things like ordering and administering drugs and IV fluids, ordering diagnostic tests, and directing nurses to administer drugs. - Ohio Legislature, H.B. 197 (4/1/20)

Ohio - Relaxing licensing requirements for newly graduated nursing students

State lawmakers have temporarily relaxed licensing requirements to get newly graduated nursing students on the job immediately. - Ohio Legislature, H.B. 197 (4/1/20)

Oklahoma - Allowing health-care providers to provide care via telemedicine with no pre-existing relationship required

"The preexisting patient relationship requirement for telemedicine…is hereby waived so long as this Order is in effect." - Office of Governor J. Kevin Stitt (3/17/20)

Oklahoma - Interstate reciprocity for health care licenses

"Any medical professional who holds a license, certificate, or other permit issued by any state that is a party to the Emergency Management Compact evidencing the meeting of qualifications for the practice of certain medical services… shall be deemed licensed to practice in Oklahoma... " - Office of Governor J. Kevin Stitt (3/17/20)

Oklahoma - Regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicles providing assistance for relief

"This Emergency Declaration provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations that are providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks…" - Office of Governor J. Kevin Stitt (3/17/20)

Oregon - Renewal of medical licenses

"Nik Blosser, Gov. Brown's chief of staff, said the state would immediately take steps to expand the health care workforce, by automatically renewing the license of any medical professional whose license had recently expired, for instance." - KGW8, NBC (3/16/20)

Oregon - Allows people to pump their own gas

"Effective immediately today, until April 11 (two weeks from effective date), retail facilities of Class 1 flammable liquid transportation fuels [formerly] prohibited from offering self-service refueling shall: 1. Prepare, implement and enforce social distancing policies consistent with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, 2. Require an attendant to be on duty to supervise self-service refueling consistent with the social distancing policies and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through sanitization measures, and 3. Designate an employee at each station to implement and enforce the social distancing policies." - Office of State Fire Marshal (3/28/20)

Pennsylvania - Licensed Health Care Practitioners Can Provide Telemedicine Services to Pennsylvanians During Coronavirus Emergency

"Health care professionals licensed under any of the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) licensing boards can provide services to patients via telemedicine during the coronavirus emergency." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/18/20)

Pennsylvania - Issuance of Temporary Licenses to Health Care Practitioners to be Expedited During Coronavirus Emergency

"Governor Wolf granted the Department of State’s request for a suspension to allow expedited temporary licensure to practitioners in other states to provide services to Pennsylvanians, for the duration of the coronavirus emergency." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/18/20)

Pennsylvania - Certain regulations suspended for Nurse-Midwives

"Governor Wolf granted the Department of State’s request to allow the suspension of certain regulations concerning Certified Nurse Midwives. The Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs identified several regulations that could limit or delay the number of available practitioners to provide much-needed assistance." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/20/20)

Pennsylvania - Medical Doctors’ Two-Facility Institutional License Limit Suspended During Coronavirus Emergency

"In order to increase the number of practitioners available to respond to COVID-19, Governor Wolf granted the Department of State’s request to suspend the limitations on the number of institutions with which a medical doctor can be affiliated and the requirement to report those affiliations to the Board of Medicine for the duration of the disaster declaration. The Governor has suspended the institutional-license requirement that limits qualified medical doctors to practicing at no more than two (2) affiliated facilities." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/20/20)

Pennsylvania - In-Person Requirement Suspended for Court Reporters

"Governor Wolf granted the Department of State’s request to suspend the requirement for physical presence of notaries who are court reporters/stenographers participating in criminal, civil and administrative proceedings in this Commonwealth." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/21/20)

Pennsylvania - Waives Some Nurse Licensing Requirements to Aid Coronavirus Response

"The Department of State has waived certain administrative requirements for nurses, including temporarily extending license expiration dates and waiving associated fees during the coronavirus emergency." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/21/20)

Pennsylvania - Some Continuing-Education Restrictions Suspended for Licensed Professionals

"Governor Wolf granted the Department of State’s request to suspend restrictions on distance-learning for continuing-education requirements for certain licensed professionals." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/22/20)

Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania Suspends Certain Licensure Requirements for State Board of Psychology, and State Board of Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Professional Counselors

"In order to increase the number of health-care practitioners available to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, Governor Wolf has granted the Department of State’s request to suspend some licensing requirements related to psychology; social work, marriage and family therapy and professional counselors." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/22/20)

Pennsylvania - Some License Requirements for Qualified Physicians Assistants Are Suspended During Coronavirus Emergency

"In order to allow physician assistants practicing under the state Board of Osteopathic Medicine to more easily and effectively assist with emergency response efforts to COVID-19, Governor Wolf granted the Department of State’s request to suspend requirements pertaining to written agreements and several other items." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/22/20)

Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania Expands Access to Pharmacy Services

"The Wolf administration is removing barriers for pharmacies to provide services for Pennsylvanians in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Governor Wolf has granted a request from the Pennsylvania Department of State to suspend certain pharmacy regulations to enable more flexible and available services during the coronavirus emergency." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/22/20)

Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania to Allow Retired Health Care Professionals to Bolster COVID-19 Response

"In order to increase the number of health care practitioners available to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and to ensure continuity of patient care and services, Governor Wolf has granted the Department of State’s request to suspend some licensing and regulatory requirements that will allow individuals in the healthcare field who have inactive licenses or have allowed their Pennsylvania license to expire, to seek reactivation and immediately resume work within their scope of practice, provided their inactive or expired license is/was in good standing." - Pennsylvania Department of State (3/25/20)

South Carolina - Issuing of “emergency” nursing and medical licenses to combat COVID-19

"The state medical board can expedite temporary licensure for out-of-state physicians, physician assistants and respiratory care practitioners within 24 hours... There will be no fee." - Office of Governor Henry McMaster (3/14/20) 

Tennessee - Established interstate reciprocity for health care professionals

Gov. Bill Lee lifted licensing requirements for health care professionals to allow them to provide "localized treatment of patients in temporary residences." He is now allowing health care professionals who are licensed in another state to engage in the practice of their profession in Tennessee. - Executive Order by Governor Bill Lee (3/12/20)

Tennessee - Waiving child care licensure requirements

"Related rules are hereby suspended to the extent necessary to give the Commissioner of Human Services the discretion to waive the child care licensure requirements, including requirements concerning capacity, care categories, grouping, license transfers, and drop-in centers, if necessary to respond to the effects of COVID-19." - Executive Order by Governor Bill Lee (3/12/20)

Tennessee - Suspends many requirements of transporting medical supplies

"The provisions... that set forth maximum height, length, and width limitations are hereby suspended in the case of vehicles participating in the response to COVID-19, subject to the following conditions: a vehicle must be transporting emergency supplies, equipment, or mobile structures to affected areas." - Executive Order by Governor Bill Lee (3/12/20)

Tennessee - Allow testing for COVID-19 at alternative sites without prior approval from medical board

"The provisions of Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 1200-06-03-.16 are suspended to allow testing for COVID-19 at alternate testing sites without prior approval by the Medical Laboratory Board; provided, that laboratories shall notify the Medical Laboratory Board of any such alternate testing sites." - Executive Order by Governor Bill Lee (3/12/20)

Texas - Alcohol and groceries allowed in the same delivery truck

"Governor Greg Abbott lifted the restriction that forbid trucks from delivering both alcohol and groceries in the same truck." - KXXV (3/15/20)

Texas - Allowing the delivery of alcohol

Under this waiver, restaurants with a mixed beverage permit will immediately be able to sell beer, wine, or mixed drinks for delivery "as long as they are accompanied by food purchased from the restaurant." - Office of Governor Greg Abbott (3/18/20)

Texas - Fast-tracking the temporary licensing of out-of-state physicians, physician assistants, certain retired physicians, nurses, and other license types

"Governor Greg Abbott directed the Texas Medical Board (TMB) and the Texas Board of Nursing (TBN) to fast-track the temporary licensing of out-of-state physicians, physician assistants, certain retired physicians, nurses, and other license types to assist in Texas' response to COVID-19." - Office of Governor Greg Abbott (3/14/20)

Virginia  - Reducing driver training school regulations to minimize customer contact

Virginia will "minimize customer contact during driver training at Class B Virginia Driver Training Schools by: Waiving the two-student minimum requirement under the Virginia Driver Training Schools Regulations; Waiving the student-to-student observation periods during in-vehicle instruction; and Allowing one-on-one in-vehicle instruction." - Office of Governor Ralph Northam (3/17/20)

Virginia - Suspend Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections, typically required for every vehicle registered in the state

"I direct the Virginia Department of State Police (VSP) to undertake the following measure: Suspend the enforcement of Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections (MVSI) required under § 46.2-1157 of the Code of Virginia." - Office of Governor Ralph Northam (3/19/20)

Virginia - Lifted "Certificate of Need" law regarding hospital beds

""That order lifts our certificate of public need restrictions, so that our health commissioner can give hospitals and nursing homes the authority to add the beds they need without going through red tape," Northam said, during a Saturday morning press briefing. "They can act quickly to respond to the needs in this fast-changing situation."" - Patch (3/21/20)

Washington - Allows for out-of-state licensed professional to volunteer in Washington

"Under RCW 70.15.050, while an emergency proclamation of the Governor is in effect, a volunteer health practitioner who is licensed in another state may practice in Washington without obtaining a Washington license if he or she is in good standing in all states of licensure and is registered in the volunteer health practitioner system." - Washington Department of Health (3/2020)

Washington, DC - Allowing the delivery of alcohol

"The bill passed at the most recent meeting has… allowed for delivery and carry-out sales by restaurants of beer/wine, if sold along with prepared food (pending written restaurant-by-restaurant approval by the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration)." - Council of the District of Columbia (3/17/20)

Wisconsin - Established interstate reciprocity for health care licenses

"Any health care provider with a valid and current license issued by another state may practice under that license and within the scope of that license in Wisconsin without first obtaining a temporary or permanent license." - Office of Governor Tony Evers (3/27/20)

Wisconsin - Allows medical license holders to work outside of the facility that employs them

"The following language is suspended: "providing such practice is entirely limited to the medical education facility, medical research facility, or medical school where the license holder is teaching, conducting research, or practicing medicine and surgery, and is limited to the terms and restrictions established by the board."" - Office of Governor Tony Evers (3/27/20)

Wisconsin - Allows physicians from other states and Canada to provide telemedicine services within the state

"A physician providing telemedicine in the diagnosis and treatment of a patient who is located in this state must have a valid and current license issues by this State, another state, or Canada." - Office of Governor Tony Evers (3/27/20)

Wisconsin - Gives physician assistants more flexibility in their scope of practice

"The following language is suspended: "and may not exceed the scope of practice of the physician or podiatrist providing supervision. A medical care task assigned by the supervising physician or podiatrist to a physician assistant may not be delegated by the physician assistant to another person."" - Office of Governor Tony Evers (3/27/20)

Wisconsin - Loosened regulations pertaining to nursing, adjusting clinical education requirements for nursing students who are close to graduation, allowing them to begin practicing sooner to respond to the pandemic

Suspended rules: places limit on utilization of simulation for nurse training, applications to practice under a temporary permit (partially suspended), requirements for credential renewal within five years of expiration (partially suspended), nursing care management and collaboration with other health care professionals.Office of Governor Tony Evers (3/27/20)

Suspended local rules and regulations:

Albuquerque, NM - Suspending plastic bag ban

"For the next thirty days, businesses in Albuquerque will temporarily be allowed to use any type of plastic bag for their customers and the City’s Environmental Health Department will suspend enforcement of the plastic bag ban citywide. Businesses are still encouraged to use paper bags if available." - City of Albuquerque (3/26/20)

Eureka, MO - Allowing restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages for delivery or curbside

"Mayor Sean Flower was concerned curbside and delivery food services would not be enough to keep these independent restaurants operating, so he stepped in and made the decision to pass an executive order that allows restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages [through curbside or delivery]." - Fox 2 Now (3/27/20)

Fargo, ND - Allowing licensed restaurants and bars to sell alcohol curbside, to-go and with delivery orders

"The Fargo City Commission has approved the curbside, to-go sale and delivery of alcohol within Fargo city limits for a period of 30 days beginning Monday, March 23." - Valley News (3/23/20)

Los Angeles, CA - Allowing restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages for delivery or takeout

The order modified "any and all City of Los Angeles regulations governing the sale of alcoholic beverages to “allow (i) sales of alcoholic beverages by restaurants for off-site consumption are hereby permitted for delivery and take-out and (ii) sales, by retail stores, of alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption, including deliveries and extended sales hours, from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily." - Office of Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti (3/23/20)

Los Angeles, CA - Relaxes parking restrictions on commercial vehicles

The order also provides that, “Parking enforcement will be relaxed and an extended grace period will be given to vehicles owned and operated by employees or employers who are engaged in manufacturing or healthcare activities listed as essential under the March 15, 2020 Public Order Under City of Los Angeles Emergency Authority and located in permanent or temporary industrial, manufacturing, or commercial zones of the City of Los Angeles.” - Office of Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti (3/23/20)

West Fargo, ND - Allowing licensed restaurants and bars to sell alcohol curbside, to-go and with delivery orders

"Any sale of sealed cans or bottles of alcoholic beverages to customers taking delivery of prepared food from a restaurant within the City, also licensed to serve on-sale alcoholic beverages by way of “take-out,” “curbside delivery,” “drive-through,” or by other lawful means of delivery shall be deemed to be “on-sale” service or sale of such alcoholic beverages. Delivery of prepared food without any accompanied sale of alcoholic beverages may be delivered by agents or third party delivery services. Employees who deliver alcoholic beverages must be at least twenty-one (21) years old and be able to provide proof of age if asked by the City of West Fargo." - City of West Fargo (3/25/20)

This list will be updated constantly as rules continue to be suspended. If you know of a rule suspension not included above, please send to ideas@atr.org.

 

Photo Credit: MarylandGovPics


Freedom Keeps Advancing in Florida Legislature, But Not Without Effort

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Posted on Friday, April 3rd, 2020, 3:15 PM PERMALINK

The Sunshine State is a beacon of great tax and free market policy. The 2020 legislative session saw more progress made, but not always smoothly, as some priorities were left behind. AFP Florida State Director Skylar Zander joins the podcast to talk occupational licensing, health care reform, improving the criminal justice system and more from Florida's recently concluded 2020 session.

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Posted by John Kartch on Thursday, April 2nd, 2020, 8:00 AM PERMALINK


Trump Has Repealed Six Obamacare Tax Hikes

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Posted by John Kartch on Wednesday, April 1st, 2020, 9:30 AM PERMALINK


Since taking office, President Trump has managed to repeal six Obamacare tax increases:

1. Obamacare Individual Mandate Tax. This much-loathed tax was zeroed out by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The $695 - $2,085 tax hit five million households per year. 80 percent of these households had annual income of less than $75,000. This tax is just one of the many Obamacare tax increases that hit the middle class in violation of Barack Obama and Joe Biden's "firm pledge" that no American making less than $250,000 per year would see any form of tax increase.

2. Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax. There are 26 million Americans with a Health Savings Account and 35 million Americans with a Flexible Spending Account. Prior to Obamacare, these households were able to use pre-tax HSA and FSA dollars to purchase over the counter flu and cold medicines along with thousands of other items that fill a typical household medicine cabinet. Obama and Biden forbid the purchase of these items with HSA and FSA funds and did not exempt households making less than $250,000 per year, yet another violation of Obama-Biden's "firm pledge" not to raise any form of any tax on these households. Thankfully President Trump signed the repeal of the Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax last week, a huge help to cash-strapped middle class families.

3. Obamacare Medical Device Tax. It's a good thing President Trump signed the repeal of this Obamacare tax in December 2019, because this tax would be particularly harmful while America battles the coronavirus. Medical device companies produce tens of thousands of products, from respirators to imaging equipment to hospital beds. This Obamacare tax was set to impose a 2.3 percent excise tax on total sales of each medical device company, even those companies who did not turn a profit in a given year. The specter of this tax put American medical device companies at a disadvantage to overseas firms. The medical device tax was originally scheduled to take effect in 2013 but was repeatedly delayed at the insistence of Republicans in congress. Trump put this tax out of its misery for good.

4. Obamacare Chronic Care Tax. This Obamacare provision was an income tax increase on households with high medical or dental expenses in a given year. Prior to Obamacare, households incurring medical expenses exceeding 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income were allowed to take an income tax deduction. Obamacare raised that threshold to 10 percent, widening the net of taxable income, hitting middle class households hard by punishing those who happened to have bad health luck in a given year. Obama and Biden did not exempt households making less than $250,000 -- yet another violation of Obama-Biden's "firm pledge" not to raise any form of any tax on these households. Thankfully President Trump repealed this tax increase as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

5. Obamacare Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans. Obamacare included a 40 percent "Cadillac" tax on employee health insurance coverage Obama and Biden considered to be too good. This 40 percent tax would have hit millions of middle class and union households hard. It was originally scheduled to go into effect in 2018 but the implementation date was delayed to 2022. Trump put the tax out if its misery in December 2019, effective immediately in 2020.

6. Obamacare Health Insurance Tax. Obamacare imposed a steep excise tax on health insurance providers which only served to raise costs for customers, pricing many Americans out of insurance access. Trump signed repeal of this Obamacare tax in December 2019.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


NY Budget Must Avoid Tax Hikes, Attacks on Jobs, as State Fights Off Coronavirus

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Posted by Doug Kellogg on Tuesday, March 31st, 2020, 4:33 PM PERMALINK

New York State is in the middle of an unprecedented crisis – the coronavirus pandemic. New York City is one of the epicenters of the outbreak in the U.S.

Government is not immune, as multiple state legislators have tested positive for COVID-19, adding Senator James Seward to the list on Monday. Despite all this, state lawmakers still have a budget deadline of April 1 (though rules to allow remote voting could add flexibility to that).

New York’s standard budget process is not exactly transparent, with closed-door negotiations and dysfunctional committees. This year, it has become more mysterious as the capitol building has been cleared out to stop the spread of coronavirus.

On top of that, what was already a massive $6 billion budget gap, is now estimated to be $15 billion due to coronavirus’ impact on the state economy.

Major threats at the start of session included an “ultra” millionaire’s tax, destruction of the independent contractor system (following the lead of California’s AB 5), and a digital services tax (similar to Maryland’s ill-advised policy).

While the last thing government should be doing is taking more of people’s hard-earned money when they need it in a crisis, that does not mean the temptation is not there. Many legislators remain interested in adding new tiers to the millionaire’s tax.

Left-leaning groups like Vocal-NY, the Working Families Party, Indivisible, and Citizen Action, are pushing for any millionaire’s tax hike proposal to pass. A long list of these organizations and others just sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo and leadership urging adoption of two bills from Sen. Robert Jackson which would enact ultra-millionaire’s taxes. One of which is a $4.5 billion tax hike that creates new high-tax rate brackets for people earning over $1 million, $5 million, $10 million, and $100 million annually.

Even this massive tax hike does not come close to closing a $15 billion gap, or even close the initial $6 billion gap – and that’s assuming everyone it targets would stay put and pay, an unlikely scenario.

A proposal to create a digital services tax (S6102/A9112) has not gained momentum. This awful concept would impose extra costs on businesses that would hammer consumers too, while triggering legal challenges as it violates the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

As Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon outlines, New York’s heavy reliance on capital gains taxes leaves the state vulnerable to significant revenue loss. Post-coronavirus, “the decrease in capital gains income is likely to be more on the order of 40 to 50 percent”, McMahon writes.

New York cannot make the tax environment worse. It is already too burdensome, ranking first for state and local tax burden and collections, according to the Tax Foundation. The state’s affordability crisis has driven a massive exodus, and population loss in recent years.

Gov. Cuomo has not expressed interest in increasing taxes, and his budget proposal maintains middle class income tax cuts that passed a few years ago with a multi-year phase-in plan.

Legislators must hold the line on tax increases to avoid driving more people to leave the state. The federal emergency coronavirus bill will send around $40 billion to New York State. U.S. taxpayers are already sacrificing. Though this money is aimed at coronavirus related costs, it does also include $1 billion for education.

Coronavirus has also highlighted how often government gets in the way of jobs and innovation. Americans for Tax Reform continues to track rules and regulations that have been relaxed to make it easier for services to reach people.

Unfortunately, one set of regulations that has not been relaxed is California’s misguided attack on independent contractors, AB5, a model that Governor Cuomo sought to emulate in New York.

There is no excuse to pursue this policy after its disastrous consequences have been made clear by California Untold numbers of jobs have been lost, some through layoffs at outlets like Vox and SB Nation, others as California freelancers lose work and clients, potentially forcing them to leave the state. California has also been sued over AB5 by the American Society for Journalists and Authors (ASJA).

With many industries having exemptions to the law, trucking companies getting a restraining order on complying, and now a successful effort to place an initiative on the ballot that would reform the law, it is clearly a failure.

Legislation to recreate this disaster in New York, S6699A, has not moved, and legislators should keep this job-killing proposal stalled.

Also on the labor front, Gov. Cuomo proposed a reckless expansion of the state’s prevailing wage law into private construction. This is a direct attack on non-union options that will cut them out of projects, and drive up costs for taxpayers in the process. Firms will be driven out of business, and jobs will be lost at a time when New York desperately needs more of both.

This would be triggered if only 30% of funding comes from government incentives – not even direct spending. Worse, a board appointed by the Governor could change the rules.

Unshackle Upstate is leading opposition efforts, and highlighted a Weitzman Group analysis that found “an expanded prevailing wage mandate will increase private construction costs by an average of 30%.”

Medicaid was a major factor driving the $6 billion gap, and remains in need of reform. The Governor charged a task force with finding savings in Medicaid, their sensible recommendations still only amount to a $1.9 billion reduction in spending growth, Bill Hammond with Empire Center explains.

To deal with the gap, Medicaid will have to be cut further, as will education spending.

New York consistently increases education aid in its annual budget, and despite spending among the most per-pupil gets middling outcomes. The education establishment demanded billions of dollars in aid increases this year, while Governor Cuomo proposed spending over $800 million.

Some trimming will be needed, but again, the federal response allots over $1 billion for education.

Also keep an eye out for Governor Cuomo’s effort to use a “climate emergency” to take away localities’ ability to determine taxes and approvals for wind and solar projects.

The deck is already stacked in favor of these projects being imposed on localities in New York. But under the changes highlighted in a recent New York Post op-ed by Jonathan Lesser with the Manhattan Institute, taxes would be determined by the state and local government could impose no rules or restrictions on where wind turbines or solar facilities could be built.

There is much at stake as New York’s final budget comes together in the most difficult of circumstances. Protecting taxpayers will best prepare the state to recover economically as coronavirus subsides.

Photo Credit: Albany.org

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Pelosi’s Proposed SALT Cap Repeal Would Do Nothing to Address Coronavirus Pandemic or Help Middle Class

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Tuesday, March 31st, 2020, 3:20 PM PERMALINK

In a recent interview, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats will push to retroactively repeal or roll back the cap on state and local taxes (SALT) in a forthcoming Coronavirus stimulus package.

Rolling back the SALT cap would do nothing to help fight the Coronavirus, nor would it do anything to help the middle class. Instead, it would expand bad tax policy that subsidizes high tax, big government states. Rather than repealing or rolling back the SALT cap, lawmakers should repeal the SALT deduction entirely as part of legislation that offers broad based tax reduction for American families. 

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act limited the deduction for state and local taxes (including property taxes and either sales taxes or income taxes) to $10,000. 

Democrats claim this $10,000 cap raised taxes and that it erodes fairness in the tax code leading to double taxation because individuals are now paying federal taxes on income that was already subject to state and local taxes.

However, this argument is flawed. 

First, the majority of Americans are seeing tax cuts. The TCJA reduced taxes for roughly 90 percent of Americans and for taxpayers at every income level through lower rates, the expanded standard deduction, and the doubling of the child tax credit.

Second, the TCJA raised the income tax thresholds that the Alternative Minimum tax kicked in, meaning that an estimated 4.5 million families are now able to claim $10,000 in SALT deductions, which was previously disallowed by the AMT. 

Lastly, the majority of Americans were not deducting state and local taxes before the cap and are therefore unaffected by the change to the deduction.

Prior to passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, roughly 105 million American families took the standard deduction and deducted zero in state and local taxes.

This number has only increased since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubled the standard deduction leading to millions more filers taking the deduction over itemizing. Today, the majority of Americans – roughly 90 percent of filers, or 135 million taxpayers, instead claim the standard deduction of $12,400 for an individual and $24,800 for married filers.  Rolling back or repealing the SALT cap will therefore do nothing to benefit the majority of filers.

Raising or repealing the SALT cap would overwhelmingly benefit wealthy, blue states. In fact, 94 percent of the benefits from repealing the SALT cap would go to taxpayers making more than $200,000 a year, according to Joint Committee on Taxation. 

Even progressive leaning groups and lawmakers have criticized proposals to raise the cap.

For instance, the left leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has stated that this proposal would be “regressive and costly.” The Center for American Progress has stated that repeal of the SALT cap “should not be a top priority” as it would “overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy, not the middle class.”

In addition, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) recently criticized efforts to repeal the SALT cap noting that it runs counter to Democrat ideals: “We can say we’re for a progressive tax bill and for fighting inequality, or we can support the SALT deduction, but it’s really hard to do both of those things.”

Any effort to raise the SALT cap as proposed by Speaker Pelosi would do little if anything to benefit middle class families and would instead be a give away to high-tax states. This is another attempt by the left to put unrelated proposals in Coronavirus legislation and should be rejected by lawmakers.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


Coronavirus Pandemic Shows Fatal Flaws of Socialized Medicine

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, March 30th, 2020, 11:20 AM PERMALINK

In recent weeks, radical leftist politicians have exploited the Coronavirus pandemic to push their vision of government-run healthcare. 

Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) recently tweeted that the Coronavirus crisis would be a “great time” for implementing the Medicare for All government takeover of healthcare. 

Not to be outdone, avowed socialist and 2020 Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said that his main takeaway from the pandemic is that it has “never been more important…[to pass] Medicare for All.” 

The left has the situation completely backwards – we would be no better off with socialized healthcare.

Countries with government-run healthcare have been unable to contain the pandemic. If anything, the response of single-payer countries to this crisis shows the fatal flaws of the Medicare for All model. 

Sanders claims that countries with socialized medicine are uniquely equipped to effectively contain a Coronavirus-style pandemic. 

This would be news to people in countries with government-run healthcare.

In normal times, single-payer systems have insufficient resources, understaffed and overstuffed hospitals, and long waiting lines for patients seeking treatment. At a time when demand sharply increases in response to a pandemic like COVID-19, all of these problems are exacerbated.

In Great Britain, just 8 out of 1,600 doctors surveyed said that Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) was up to the task of dealing with the pandemic. 

The problems plaguing Britain’s healthcare system predate the Coronavirus. In late 2019, the NHS was short 10,000 doctors and 43,000 nurses, with 9 in 10 NHS bosses saying that staffing issues presented a danger to patients. Britain also has over 4.5 million Britons currently waiting for hospitalization, a number that will only increase as the Coronavirus continues to spread. 

Canada’s single-payer model has also been unable to contain the pandemic. As cases rise, experts at the University of Toronto project that 35 to 70 percent of Canadians could be infected by COVID-19, and hospitals are already operating at capacity. Canada’s healthcare problems predate the pandemic – in 2017, Canadians had to wait a record 21.2 weeks to receive treatment from a specialist after being referred by their general practitioner. These long waiting lines have a debilitating effect on the health of Canadians patients, especially those with complex medical needs and disabilities.   

Sanders has also argued that a government-run system would make it easier to have people tested and treated for the Coronavirus. Predictably, Sanders is ignoring how America’s free market healthcare system is engaging with the private sector to curb this crisis. 

Two of the largest private labs in the country, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, will soon be able to produce 300,000 COVID-19 tests per week. 

Pharmaceutical companies are also stepping up to the plate to contain the crisis. Usually, it takes years of rigorous trials and testing to develop a vaccine, but time is drastically limited in the midst of a global pandemic. Manufacturers and scientists are working at a record pace to get a Coronavirus cure out the door and in the hands of patients. 

All health insurers will cover the cost of lab tests and visits to providers for Coronavirus screening. American patients will not have to pay a penny out of pocket to get a test. 

In response to an N95 mask shortage, American companies are stepping up to fill the void. Merck & Company recently delivered 500,000 masks to New York City Emergency Management. Harbor Freight is donating its entire supply of N95 masks and other critical equipment to hospitals in the communities where they have stores. 

Nationally, companies are retrofitting facilities to produce critical medical supplies. Hanes, a clothing company, is retrofitting large portions of their plants to produce masks. Apple is donating millions of masks globally to help contain the crisis, and GM and Ford are modifying facilities to produce medical equipment and ventilators. Anheuser Busch is also beginning to use its network to mass-produce hand sanitizer. 

Countries with single-payer healthcare systems struggled to treat patients before the pandemic – these problems are only exacerbated by a large influx of patients. Government-run healthcare systems do nothing to help contain public health crises like the Coronavirus. In fact, problems like understaffing and supply shortages may make the crisis worse. 

Photo Credit: katie chao and ben muessig


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