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


Free Speech & Citizen Privacy Under Attack, Even During Pandemic

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Posted on Friday, March 27th, 2020, 5:03 PM PERMALINK

Nancy Pelosi & House Democrats went after citizen privacy & free speech with their coronavirus bill, highlighting just how at-risk freedom of speech is. Many state governments also have attempted to silence citizen advocacy. Matt Nese from the Institute for Free Speech joins the podcast to discuss these issues, and how to proactively protect citizen privacy.

More from Americans for Tax Reform


List: 117 Regulations Waived to Help Fight COVID-19

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Posted by Isabelle Morales on Friday, March 27th, 2020, 1:15 PM PERMALINK

The Trump administration and state and local governments are wisely suspending regulations in order to help the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

Many of these regulations were never needed 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.  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)

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)

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)

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 Commisioner of Revenue Services shall issue any implementing order he deems necessmy, and any guidance for businesses on accounting or other necessmy measures during this temporary suspension." - Office of Governor Ned Lamont (3/26/20)

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)

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) 

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

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 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)

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)

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)

Suspended local rules and regulations:

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)

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)

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


CARES Act Repeals Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Thursday, March 26th, 2020, 4:54 PM PERMALINK

Another Obamacare tax on the middle class bites the dust

In a win for over 26 million Americans with a Health Savings Account (HSA) and the 35 million with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act repeals Obamacare’s onerous Medicine Cabinet Tax. 

The Obamacare Medicine Cabinet Tax prohibits Americans from using HSAs or FSAs to purchase thousands of over the counter medicines like cold and flu drugs, allergy medication, children’s fever relievers, and menstrual cramp relief medication. Under the tax, only prescription medicines qualified as an HSA/FSA expense.

The CARES Act strikes the last sentence of sub-paragraph A of Sec. 223(d)(2) in the tax code to remove this restriction. 

Upon President Trump’s signature, Americans will be able to purchase thousands of over the counter medical products using pre-tax dollars, a big help for cash-strapped households.

The bill also allows Americans to use pre-tax dollars for the purchase of menstrual products, defined as a “tampon, pad, liner, cup, sponge, or similar product used by individuals with respect to menstruation or other genital-tract secretions.”

HSAs are tax-advantaged savings accounts that individuals can use to pay for qualified medical expenses. Since they were created in 2004, HSAs have become a popular and successful vehicle for individuals to spend and save their own money for a wide array of healthcare needs.

FSAs are employer-sponsored accounts that individuals can use to pay for medical expenses. 

The Medicine Cabinet Tax was one of the many Obamacare tax increases on the middle class and a violation of the Obama-Biden pledge not to raise any tax on any American making less than $250,000 per year.

By forcing Americans with FSAs and HSAs to use post-tax dollars to purchase these necessary items, Obamacare raised taxes on these households by $8.5 billion over a ten year period.

By repealing Obamacare’s costly and onerous Medicine Cabinet Tax, the CARES Act provides important flexibility and tax relief for middle-class Americans that use HSAs or FSAs to pay for medical expenses. 

Photo Credit: Ben Schumin


Senate Coronavirus Bill Contains Important Tax Cuts for Individuals and Businesses

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Wednesday, March 25th, 2020, 8:12 PM PERMALINK

The Senate Coronavirus emergency relief legislation, known as the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act”, contains numerous tax cuts that will offer individuals and businesses much needed liquidity during the pandemic.

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the legislation reduces taxes for businesses by $275 billion over the budget window. In all, the bill cut taxes by almost $600 billion.

These broad-based tax cuts will give businesses the flexibility to meet expenses including payroll during this unprecedented economic and health crisis. Not only will this ensure individuals continue getting paid, but the tax cuts will also give Americans flexibility over retirement accounts and charitable contributions.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Allows businesses to carryback losses incurred in 2018, 2019, and 2020 for five years.
  • Broadens the ability of businesses to deduct net interest expenses from 30 percent of EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) to 50 percent of EBITDA for 2019 and 2020. 
  • Fixes the “retail glitch” so that qualified improvement property can be immediately deducted instead of depreciated over 39.5 years.
  • Allows companies to delay paying 50 percent of employer payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022.
  • Creates a 50 percent employer payroll tax credit from March 13 to the end of 2020. Credit is capped at $10,000 of wages per employee per quarter.
  • Creates an above the line charitable deduction of $300 for 2020.
  • Waives required minimum distribution rules for 2020.
  • Allows penalty free distribution of $100,000 from retirement account for coronavirus distributions.

Photo Credit: ComputerGuy - Flickr


Despite Republican Progress, Congress Should Continue Working To Repeal All of Obamacare's Taxes

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Posted by Samantha Capriotti on Wednesday, March 25th, 2020, 1:49 PM PERMALINK

Ten years ago from Monday, Obamacare was signed into law on a party line vote. Since then, the law has resulted in skyrocketing premiums, billions of dollars in wasteful spending, and millions of Americans losing their healthcare plans.  

Obamacare also imposed a trillion dollars in new or higher taxes on middle class Americans and on the healthcare system. 

Many of these taxes have since been repealed by President Trump and Republicans in Congress, offering relief to families and businesses. 

Republicans eliminated Obamacare’s highly regressive individual mandate penalty, a tax that forced Americans who could not afford government-approved insurance to pay a tax ranging from $695 for individuals to $2,085 for families. 

The individual mandate tax disproportionately targeted the middle class – in 2017, 4,654,990 households paid $3,666,084,000 in individual mandate tax penalties. 74 percent of those households had annual income of less than $50,000, and 32 percent of those households had annual income of less than $25,000.  

Three other Obamacare taxes were repealed at the end of last year.  

The first was the medical device tax, a 2.3 percent excise tax on the sale of necessary and lifesaving medical devices such as MRI machines and hospital beds.  The tax reduced research and development funding by $34 million in 2013 and caused a loss of about 28,000 jobs over the three years it was in effect.   The Tax Foundation predicted this tax would reduce GDP by $1.7 billion and kill 21,390 full-time jobs over just two years. 

The second was the health insurance tax (HIT), an annual tax on insurance premiums. This tax increased costs for middle class workers, seniors, and small businesses.  The HIT was also highly regressive, with Americans earning less than $50,000 per year paying half of the tax.  If it was not repealed, small businesses would have lost 286,000 jobs, and small businesses combined with middle class taxpayers would have had to pay more than $130 billion through the tax over a decade.  

The third was the Cadillac tax, a 40 percent tax on employer-provided plans that exceed $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. The tax was extremely unpopular with 81 percent of Americans in a 2018 poll stating they were opposed to it. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that if the tax were to have gone into effect in 2022, as scheduled, it would have cost families up to $3,400 annually. Repealing the Cadillac Tax was a $193 billion tax cut over the next decade, according to a recent Congressional Budget Office report.      

While Congress has made great strides in repealing some of Obamacare’s most destructive and regressive taxes, lawmakers should continue working to repeal all Obamacare taxes moving forward. There are numerous taxes still in effect that are causing harm to taxpayers and the economy.

Obamacare’s employer mandate tax requires employers to pay $2,000 per full time employee for whom the employer does not provide government approved health coverage and at least one employee qualified for a health tax credit.  According to the CBO, the mandate costs businesses $166.9 billion over ten years.  

The net investment income tax imposes a 3.8 percent capital gains tax, creating a new top rate of 23.8 percent.  The tax is also imposed on investment income, above $200,000 for individuals or above $250,000 for married filers, and for small businesses filing through the individual income tax system.  Since the tax is not adjusted for inflation, it has grown significantly since it was first imposed. 

Obamacare also imposed a 0.9 percent Medicare payroll tax on workers earning more than $200,000, or $250,000 for couples.  Over a decade, the Obamacare payroll tax costs Americans $123 billion.  

While these are some of the largest taxes still in effect, there are others on the books including the tanning tax, the Health Savings Account withdrawal tax, and the Flexible Spending Account tax.  These should all be repealed.

Congress has made tremendous progress in repealing Obama-era taxes that hurt workers, businesses, and the economy as a whole.  Congress and President Trump can build on their past successes by repealing all remaining Obamacare taxes, and improve the American healthcare system at a time when it needs relief the most. 

Photo Credit: Flickr - Matt Johnson


Map Of States With Delayed Tax Filing Deadlines

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Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Tuesday, March 24th, 2020, 4:50 PM PERMALINK

The Internal Revenue Service recently announced that the upcoming federal income tax filing deadline is moved from April 15 to July 15, 2020.

“Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed,” explains a March 21 statement released by the IRS. “This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.”

Now state government officials across the U.S. are taking action to delay their tax filing deadlines in order to sync up with the extended federal deadline, which will help avoid taxpayer confusion and also increase household and small business liquidity at time of economic uncertainty.

The 25 states shaded green on the above map have moved their filing deadline to the same as the new federal deadline of July 15. The six states colored yellow have delayed their filing deadlines but, to an extended date that is different than the new federal deadline of July 15. The extended dates for those six states are:

Hawaii - July 20

Idaho - June 20

Iowa - July 31

Maryland - June 1

Mississippi - May 31

Virginia - June 1

In the seven states with no income tax, shaded gray, this issue is moot. 12 states, shaded blue in the map above, have yet to take action on the matter. These include: Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, West Virginia, and Tennessee.


Democrats are Politicizing the Coronavirus to Push Liberal Priorities

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Monday, March 23rd, 2020, 7:00 PM PERMALINK

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democrats in the House and Senate are politicizing the Coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to pass a wishlist of far-left priorities.

Senate Democrats are refusing to begin consideration of bipartisan phase three Coronavirus emergency legislation and have blocked the bill twice since Sunday evening. This obstruction comes even as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for the Senate to act “immediately” as recently as last week.

The proposal, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, would provide much-needed liquidity for businesses and individuals. It would deliver relief to Americans that are struggling to pay their bills and ensure that medical providers have the resources they need.

Contrary to the Democrat talking points, the bill does not include a slush fund for corporations. Instead, it provides loans for businesses so they can continue paying their employees and meet other expenses. This is urgently needed and will help American families keep the lights on. In addition, taxpayers are protected. Since they are loans, they come with conditions and must be repaid.

Democrats continue to mislead on this provision and are claiming the bill helps corporations over middle class families. This is not true - the proposal also grants liquidity funding in the form of direct payments to small businesses and individuals.

Throughout the process, Democrats demanded the inclusion of several priorities such as increased funding for hospitals and medical services, increased funding for state and local governments, and increased funding for unemployment insurance. 

After negotiations, the legislation was amended to meet these requests. Billions and in some cases hundreds of billions in funding exists for these priorities. For instance, the legislation contains $250 billion in funding for unemployment benefits which will ensure an additional $600 in unemployment payments for recipients for three months.

The legislation also contains $75 billion in funding for hospitals, and funding for state and local governments in the form of loans through the supposed slush fund that Democrats have lambasted.

Over in the House, Speaker Pelosi has released a 1,200 page bill that goes even further. One of Pelosi’s deputies, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), said last week that the emergency is “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

Democrats are now pushing countless proposals that are unrelated to the Coronavirus pandemic including mandating airline carbon emissions, prohibiting businesses that take loans from petitioning the federal government, wind and solar tax credits, and permitting federal employees to conduct union work on the taxpayers’ dime.

These proposals do not represent a good faith effort to deliver assistance to American families and businesses during the pandemic. Instead, it is an unabashed attempt to exploit the crisis to enact long-held liberal priorities.

Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering


West Virginia Passes Legislation to Protect Citizen Privacy

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Posted by Tabitha Jackson on Monday, March 23rd, 2020, 5:12 PM PERMALINK

In a win for citizens’ ability to advocate on issues they care about, West Virginia legislators recently passed Senate Bill 16, also known as the “Protect Our Right to Unite Act”. With bipartisan support, the bill passed unanimously, 34-0, and was signed into law by Governor Jim Justice.

Senate Bill 16 is intended to prevent the state government from releasing personal information for people who contribute to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations – a principle that has long been upheld by a Supreme Court decision.

Personal privacy is critical for protecting individuals from retribution, whether by government officials or groups like labor unions or Antifa, that can have a chilling effect on free speech and undermine the ability of citizens to hold government accountable.

The bill provides necessary protection for citizens by protecting the security of their personal information from public disclosure by government agencies. A similar bill, Senate Bill 414, passed the Senate but died in the chamber’s Judiciary Committee in 2019.

This legislation reaffirms West Virginians’ fundamental right of freedom of association. Following Mississippi and Arizona, West Virginia is the third state to sign vital citizen privacy legislation into law. Other states would be smart to follow suit and show they value their citizens’ privacy by passing similar legislation.

Photo Credit: Sky Noir


ND Governor Doug Burgum Streamlines Regulations in Order to Help Fight COVID-19

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Posted by John Kartch on Monday, March 23rd, 2020, 2:41 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform commends North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum for his actions to streamline rules and regulations in order to help residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Burgum's orders have been added to Americans for Tax Reform's tracker of federal and state waivers and suspensions of burdensome regulations in order to help Americans get needed treatment and supplies.

In addition to streamlining medical licensing and telemedicine policies to help North Dakotans, 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."

Agencies must give their recommendations to the Governor by Tuesday at 5:00 p.m.

ATR encourages all other governors to invite their state agencies to do the same.

An excerpt of the executive order is below:

NOW, THEREFORE, Doug Burgum, Governor of North Dakota, by virtue of the authority under Article V, Section 1 of the North Dakota Constitution and North Dakota Century Code Chapter 37-17.1, hereby orders all state agencies to identify provisions of any regulatory statutes, agency orders, or administrative rules that in any way prevents, hinders or delays the agency's ability to render maximum assistance or continue to deliver essential services to citizens during the pendency of the COVID-19 crisis. This order also requires state agencies to identify any statutory or regulatory requirements related to acquiring or renewing licenses or certifications essential for individual citizens and businesses providing services in this State. Of utmost importance are those services related to health, education, employment and any other service provided by state agencies and offices in response to or for purposes of mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

All Stage agencies shall submit these provisions of regulatory statutes, agency orders or administrative rules meeting the criteria defined in this Order to the Governor's office on or before 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

State elected officials and the offices within the executive branch are hereby invited to identify provisions of regulatory statutes, agency orders or administrative rules that in any way prevents, hinders or delays the ability to render maximum assistance or continue to deliver essential services to citizens during the COVID-19 crisis. Elected officials are also invited to identify any statutory or regulatory requirements related to acquiring or renewing licenses or certifications for individual citizens and businesses providing services in this state, with emphasis on services and licensing related to health, education, employment and any other service provided by state agencies and offices in response to or for purposes of mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

To further facilitate services to citizens and businesses, all North Dakota Law Enforcement Agencies and private sector businesses operating in this state are hereby directed to recognize any North Dakota driver's license or North Dakota motor vehicle registration, expired on or after March 1, 2020, as valid and current while this Executive Order is in effect.

Click here to see ATR's constantly updated tracker of COVID-19 related suspensions and waivers.

Photo Credit: Military Photo


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