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Update: President Trump Signs Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020

Update: Today President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 ("FA"). The House passed the law on May 27 and the Senate approved on June 3. The legislation provides more flexibility to small businesses who received loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).

Maturity of PPP Loans

To start, the FA establishes that all PPP loans granted after the enactment of the FA will carry a 5-year minimum maturity term. For already existing loans, the FA allows for lenders and borrowers to mutually agree to modify the 2-year maturity term of the existing loan and implement the new 5-year minimum.

Extended Covered Period

Further, the FA extends the deadline to apply for a PPP loan to December 31, 2020. The covered period for which PPP loan recipients may spend the loan is also extended. Originally, small businesses had 8 weeks to spend the PPP loan money. Under the FA, small businesses may spend the PPP loan money during a 24-week period or until December 31, 2020, whichever occurs first. A business that has received a loan prior to the enactment of the FA may elect to spend their loan within the 8-week spending period that coincides with origination of their loan or extend it through the new 24-week covered period.

Payroll vs Nonpayroll Uses

Prior to the FA, recipients of a PPP loan were required to use 75% or more of the loan on payroll expenses in order to be eligible for loan forgiveness. The FA reduces that amount and requires recipients to spend at least 60% of the loan amount on payroll expenses in order to be eligible for loan forgiveness. This allows a recipient of a PPP loan to use up to 40% of the loan amount on non-payroll expenses like mortgage, rent, and utility payments.

Full-Time Equivalent Safe Harbor

The PPP requires loan recipients to restore its full-time employee count or employee wages to its February 15, 2020 level by June 30, 2020 in order to receive the full amount of loan forgiveness. Because many businesses are still facing difficulties in restoring operations to their February 15, 2020 levels, the FA extended the date to restore the loan recipient’s full-time employee count or employee wages to December 31, 2020.

Further, the FA provides a new exemption from a proportional reduction of loan forgiveness due to a reduction in full-time employees. This exemption is conditioned on the PPP loan recipient documenting, in good faith, one of the following two findings. First, a loan recipient can document an inability to rehire individuals who were employees on February 15, 2020 and document an inability to hire similarly qualified employees for unfilled positions by December 31, 2020. Second, a loan recipient can document:

“an inability to return to the same level of business activity as such business was operating at before February 15, 2020, due to compliance with requirements established or guidance issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during the period beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending December 31, 2020, related to the maintenance of standards for sanitation, social distancing, or any other worker or customer safety requirement related to COVID–19.”

Extended Deferral Period

Under the initial CARES Act, a deferral period of not less than six months and no more than one year was allowed for loan payments of principal and interest. Under the FA, the deferral of payments of principle and interest extends until the lender receives the total forgiveness amount of the loan, which is determined by the CARES Act. Additionally, if a PPP loan recipient fails to apply for forgiveness of the loan, then the recipient must begin payments of interest and principle within 10 months of the end of the newly established 24-week covered period.

It is anticipated that President Trump will sign the FA into law but, until then, the CARES Act and the PPP remain in effect leaving the above-mentioned changes unimplemented.

For questions regarding the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, please contact your primary BMD attorney.

New York, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Delaware Become the latest States to Adopt Full Practice Authority for Nurse Practitioners

While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly created many obstacles and hardships, it also created many opportunities to try doing things differently. This can be seen in the instant rise of remote work opportunities, telehealth visits, and virtual meetings. Many States took the challenges of the pandemic and turned them into an opportunity to adjust the regulations governing licensed professionals, including for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

Explosive Growth in Pot of Gold Opportunity for Bank (and Other) Cannabis Lenders Driving Erosion of the Barriers

Our original article on bank lending to the cannabis industry anticipated that the convergence of interest between banks and the cannabis industry would draw more and larger banks to the industry. Banks were awash in liquidity with limited deployment options, while bankable cannabis businesses had rapidly growing needs for more and lower cost credit. Since then, the pot of gold opportunity for banks to lend into the cannabis industry has grown exponentially due to a combination of market constraints on equity causing a dramatic shift to debt and the ever-increasing capital needs of one of the country’s fastest growing industries. At the same time, hurdles to entry of new banks are being systematically cleared as the yellow brick road to the cannabis industry’s access to the financial markets is being paved, brick by brick, by the progressively increasing number and size of banks that are now entering the market.

2021 EEOC Charge Statistics: Retaliation & Impact of Remote Work

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its detailed information on workplace discrimination charges it received in 2021. Unsurprisingly, for the second year in a row, the total number of charges decreased as COVID-19 either shut down workplaces or disconnected employees from each other. In 2021, the agency received a total of approximately 61,000 workplace discrimination charges - the fewest in 25 years by a wide margin. For reference, the agency received over 67,000 charges in 2020, and averaged almost 90,000 charges per year over the previous 10 years.

Ohio’s Managed Care Overhaul Delayed – New Implementation Timeline

At the direction of Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched the Medicaid Managed Care Procurement process in 2019. ODM’s stated vision for the procurement was to focus on people and not just the business of managed care. This is the first structural change to Ohio’s managed care system since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) approval of Ohio’s Medicaid program in 2005. Initially, all of the new managed care programs were supposed to be implemented starting on July 1, 2022. However, ODM Director Maureen Corcoran recently confirmed that this date will be pushed back for several managed care-related programs.

Laboratory Specimen Collection Arrangements with Contract Hospitals - OIG Advisory Opinion 22-09

On April 28, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published an Advisory Opinion[1] in which it evaluated a proposed arrangement where a network of clinical laboratories (the “Requestor”) would compensate hospitals (each a “Contract Hospital”) for specimen collection, processing, and handling services (“Collection Services”) for laboratory tests furnished by the Requestor (the “Proposed Arrangement”). The OIG concluded that the Proposed Arrangement would generate prohibited remuneration under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”) if the requisite intent were present. This is due to both the possibility that the proposed per-patient-encounter fee would be used to induce or reward referrals to Requestor and the associated risk of improperly steering patients to Requestor.