WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today called for urgent action on additional coronavirus response measures aimed at providing economic relief for working Americans and families, easing the financial burden for students, and protecting both health workers and patients. Romney is pushing for consideration of these proposals as discussions continue on an additional coronavirus relief package.
“The House coronavirus response package contains critical measures to help families in Utah and across the nation in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, and the Senate should act swiftly on this legislation,” Senator Romney said. “We also urgently need to build on this legislation with additional action to help families and small businesses meet their short-term financial obligations, ease the financial burden on students entering the workforce, and protect health workers on the front lines and their patients by improving telehealth services. I will be pushing these measures as Senate discussions continue about an additional relief package.”
Romney’s Proposals Would:
Provide Economic Stability for Working Americans:
- Immediately Send $1,000 Checks to Each American: Every American adult should immediately receive a one-time check for $1,000 to help ensure families and workers can meet their short-term obligations and increase spending in the economy. Congress took similar action during the 2001 and 2008 recessions. While expansions of paid leave, unemployment insurance, and SNAP benefits are crucial, the check will help fill the gaps for Americans that may not quickly navigate different government options.
- Provide Grants to Impacted Small Businesses: Provide bridge grants from the SBA to qualified small businesses that apply but don’t receive Economic Injury Disaster Loans. This program would ensure small businesses can meet short-term obligations, such as payroll and rent, without forcing them into future bankruptcies. An eligible small businesses must exhibit a revenue loss greater than 50% from the same month in the prior year. The program will also include criminal penalties for fraud and an audit by the SBA’s Inspector General to ensure compliance.
Ease Financial Burden for Students:
- Allow “Unexpected Costs Due to COVID-19” as Factor for Pell Grant Amount: To ease the burden on some students who had to make unexpected travel, housing, and storage purchases due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we should amend the Higher Education Act’s “Cost of Attendance” to take into account such costs. Doing this will impact the Pell Grant award amounts and more accurately reflect the current reality for students.
- Loan Deferment for Recent Graduates Impacted by COVID-19: Defer the payment of student loans for a period of time to ease the burden of those who are just graduating now, in an economy suffering because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Improve Telehealth Services for Health Workers and Patients:
- Require Insurance Plans to Temporarily Cover Telehealth: To protect the health workforce and connect patients with providers, require all private insurance companies (individual, small- and large-group, and self-insured market) to cover telehealth services, if the reason for using telehealth services is related to COVID-19. The federal government would reimburse private plans for the full cost of services.