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AMTA Government Relations Department Update Regarding COVID-19

March 19, 2020

updated 4/27/2020

AMTA’s Government Relations Department continues to closely monitor updated information about COVID-19/Coronavirus, from local, state, and national officials. 

On March 6, President Trump signed an $8.3B emergency Coronavirus spending bill designed to provide relief to states already fighting to contain COVID-19. The bill will use grant funding as the method to distribute funds.  In addition to other provisions the bill includes:

  • $3B for vaccine research. 
  • $3.1B of funds designated for the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to use at his discretion with $100M designated for use by Community Health Centers for direct care to underserved populations. 
  • $950 million for state and local public health response that's to be dispersed via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • $1.5B for international activities.

President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13th, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.  The declaration allows for the exercise of particular powers and authorities activated under both the National Emergencies Act (NEA) and the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.  The national emergency declaration allows the release of additional funding to use for further coordination of the Coronavirus response at the state and federal level.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law by President Trump on Wednesday, March 18.  FFCRA is the second piece of coronavirus relief legislation passed this month.   The provisions of the new law include:

  • Additional funding and extensions for unemployment insurance
  • $500 million additional funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program
  • $400 million in additional funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program
  • Emergency paid sick leave for needs related to coronavirus
  • Emergency family and medical leave
  • Free coronavirus testing

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (H.R. 748), was signed into law on March 27th.  The $2T coronavirus relief bill is the largest relief aid package passed by Congress in United States history.  Included in the bill are provisions designed to provide assistance and relief to individuals, hospitals, businesses, and state and local governments.

Major provisions of the CARES Act:

  • Direct payments to individuals: $1,200 for single filers with adjusted gross income below $75,000 and head of household filers with adjusted gross info below $112,500; $2,400 for joint filers with adjusted gross income below $150,000. $500 for each child (defined as a dependent under the age of 17).
  • Additional expansions of unemployment insurance including: extension of benefits existing benefits by 13 weeks , increasing payments by $600 per week for 4 months, and making the self-employed eligible.
  • $150 billion in direct support to state and local governments to help fight the coronavirus.
  • Federally-backed loans up to a maximum amount to eligible businesses to help pay operational costs like payroll, rent, health benefits, insurance premiums, utilities, etc. Subject to certain conditions, loan amounts are forgivable.
  • Temporary suspension of payments for federal student loans.

Congress passed a fourth COVID-19 relief package on April 24, 2020.  The latest package provides additional funding to existing Small Business Administration programs including:

  • $321.3 billion in additional direct spending for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  
  • Additional discretionary spending totaling $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and $10 billion for Emergency EIDL grants. 
  • $100 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) including: 
    • Funding for hospitals and health care providers for health care expenses and lost revenues.
    • Additional funding for rural hospitals.
    • Increased funding for testing.
    • Data collection and reporting requirements to include various demographic data available for those tested and diagnosed with COVID-19.

AMTA will continue to monitor developments and post updates as appropriate.

Small Business Administration (SBA) – Disaster Loan Information

March 16, 2020 

updated October 09, 2020

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

As of August 8, 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program is no longer active.  Updates will be posted as they become available.  

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA) of 2020 was signed into law on June 5, 2020.  The PPPFA allows for additional flexibility for program borrowers and lenders.  The revised application form is available HERE.

The SBA recently published PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Instructions for Borrowers, providing additional guidance and specific instructions for completion of the PPP application.  In addition, the SBA issued a FAQ document for Paycheck Protection Loan lenders and borrowers.

Established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorizes loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, 501(c )(3) organizations, sole proprietors, and independent contractors.

PPP loans can provide small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs, including benefits, if they maintain their payroll. Funds can also be used to pay mortgages, rent, and utilities.

PPP loans require applying through an SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Local lenders should be consulted as to whether it is participating. All loans will have the same terms regardless of lender or borrower.

PPP loans can be forgiven if the funds are used for payroll expenses, mortgage payments, or rent and utility costs within eight weeks of receiving the loan. Additional guidance will be posted as it becomes available.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program

Federal disaster loans provide working capital to small businesses, private non-profits, homeowners and renters suffering substantial economic injury.  The CARES act adds $10 billion to the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, expanding the program include funding for grants.

EIDL Program funding can be used to:

  • Repay obligations that cannot be met due to revenue loss
  • Maintain payroll
  • Provide paid sick leave to employees unable to work due to COVID-19
  • Make rent or mortgage payments

EIDL advance funds are also available. Successful EIDL applicants receive an initial $10,000 disbursal of funding within days of submission of the successful EIDL application. 

A streamlined application for COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application and advance funding is available HERE

For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

AMTA’s Government Relations Department continues to closely monitor updated information about Coronavirus from local, state, and national officials.  In addition, we will continue to share updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other reliable agencies providing information relevant to music therapy practice.  We will update information regularly.

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Guidance for Communities, Schools, Workplaces, and Events

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and COVID – 19

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights has issued additional guidance for use during the coronavirus pandemic.  

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
US Department of Education (School Settings)
US Department of Labor (Workforce)

Additional Online Resources

NHPCO: Press Release on Hospice Telehealth

Joint Commission shares guidance and resources.

American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine is hosting free, live webinars with experts from the Tele-Medicine industry.

NAMM Foundation shares a number of music making webinars and resources.

Americans for the Arts has created a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource and Response Center

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Special Education 

 Resources

 

 

  • Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) - Question and Answer (Q & A) documents in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B and Part C dispute resolution procedures in the current COVID-19 environment.

              IDEA Part B Dispute Resolution in COVID-19 Environment Q&A Documents (June 22, 2020)

              IDEA Part C Dispute Resolution in COVID-19 Environment Q&A Documents (June 22, 2020)

Highlights

  • IDEA 45th Anniversary

On November 29, 2020, we will celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  President Gerald Ford signed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142), into law 45 years ago.  An amendment changed the name of the law to the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), in 1990.  The IDEA ensures that eligible children and youth with disabilities receive special education and related services that help children benefit from special education. According to the US Department of Education, music therapy is recognized as a related service under the IDEA.  (IDEA, Sec. 602, paragraph 22).

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) will be providing new resources and stories each day during the week of Nov. 30, 2020. 

US Department of Education – IDEA 45th Anniversary page

OSEP Fast Facts: IDEA 45th Anniversary

  • Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) Appreciation Week 2020!

    April 20-24th was SISP Appreciation Week.  As a members of the National Alliance for Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (NASISP), we take part in celebrating this week, and raising awareness about the important contributions of specialized instructional support personnel in helping students.

    One of our NASISP partners, the National Education Association (NEA), seeks additional information about the types of assistance and relief needed by Specialized Instructional Support Personnel (SISP) during the COVID-19 pandemic.  SISP services are also  Please share information about the implementation of distance learning for SISP in your school district.

    Click here to share: https://educationvotes.nea.org/action/ideastories/

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Rehabilitation/Habilitation 

  • 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by George H.W. Bush 30 years ago, on July 26, 1990.  The ADA was written to ensure that those living with disabilities are afforded the same rights and access as all people.  This landmark piece of civil rights legislation was intended to create opportunities for people with disabilities and ensure their rightful place in society.

As we celebrate 30 years of the ADA, it is a time for reflection on triumphs to be celebrated and the opportunities to learn and grow in the pursuit of inclusion for all.  Please see below for information about various events and activities commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act:

  • Habilitation Coalition (HAB) – Technical Assistance for States to Update Design of EHB Packages for Rehabilitative and Habilitative Services and Devices

April 20, 2020

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires non-grandfathered health plans in the individual and small group markets to cover essential health benefits (EHB). All EHB-benchmark plans must cover the 10 mandated categories of benefits listed in the ACA. The ACA also requires defining EHB in a manner that (1) takes into account the health care needs of diverse segments of the population and (2) reflects appropriate balance among the 10 categories.

The Habilitation Coalition (HAB), promotes a unified voice on the contents of the federal guidance that states are using to make decisions involving EHB, particularly around habilitation benefits.  AMTA is an active member of HAB. Given the additional flexibility and options for states to select new EHB benchmark plans following the 2019 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters final rule, HAB recently developed and submitted an EHB toolkit to all state governors and insurance commissioners.  The toolkit is designed to provide technical assistance to states regarding the essential health benefit category of “rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.” Music therapy specifically listed as one of the many services to be included to ensure appropriate coverage of rehabilitative and habilitative services in EHB benchmark plans.

Find the toolkit here.

 


Veterans

  • The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019

The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 (Pub. L. 116-171), was enacted on October 17, 2020.  The Act requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase the services it provides for suicide prevention and mental health care and to collect and analyze medical data on veterans receiving mental health care from the department.  

Fact Sheet Available Here

  • New Qualification Standards from the Veterans Health Administration

As of June 9, 2019, all new music therapist hires for the Veteran’s Administration must be board certified as a MT-BC approved by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). Specific knowledge, skills and abilities have been defined for GS-7 to GS-14.

New position levels above the Journey Level - Full performance GS 11, such as GS-12, have been defined to promote recognition of specialization in various areas of assignments.  Examples of additional certification in specialty treatment areas in music therapy include, but are not limited to: advanced improvisational music therapy, Bonny method of guided imagery and music (BM-GIM), neurological music therapy (NMT), creative music therapy, or in a directly related field, such as palliative care, dementia care, or substance abuse. Additional specialization examples include assignments such as: Clinical Education Coordinators; Program Coordinators; Lead Creative Arts Therapists; Supervisory Creative Arts Therapists, Assistant and Service Chief as well as Clinical Research Specialists. 

The VHA Handbook Part II, Appendix G60 new qualification standards will effectively benefit thousands of Veterans and their families by advancing the clinical services and competence level of the professional disciplines within the organization.  The conversion of the therapists to Hybrid Title 38 will ensure our Nation Veterans receive the highest level of specialized experience in clinical care and technology.  

 

AMTA Statement of Concern Regarding Acts of Violence

October 29, 2018 

 

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) is disturbed by the increasing number of violent acts that unfortunately have become a frequent occurrence in our nation. The senseless shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the targeted bomb mailings to select U.S. leaders, and the bigoted killings at a Kentucky grocery store within the past week are just the latest in a long list of hate-filled attacks on our community members. AMTA urges our local, state, and federal leaders to work together to implement real solutions that will protect our communities, regardless of our political or religious beliefs.

Our sincere condolences extend to the families and friends of the victims and to all that have been affected by these horrific crimes.   

For clinicians working in schools or with persons in the community struggling with these many events, the following resources may be helpful:

  • National Association of School Psychologists: https://www.nasponline.org
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Information on trauma and violence: https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence

SAMHSA's information on trauma-informed care: https://www.samhsa.gov/nctic

For more information and resources supporting civil rights in response to hate crimes, please visit https://www.adl.org.

 

AMTA Board Issues Federal Advocacy Statement: Family Separation

 

AMTA consistently partners with a variety of stakeholder organizations in health and education on both the federal and state level to advocate for services for children and adults with disabilities, which is consistent with our mission of increasing awareness of and access to quality music therapy services. We stand in solidarity with many of our coalition partners in rejecting the harmful zero-tolerance policies at the US border that are resulting in family detention and separation.  The trauma suffered by these families and their children will have lasting effects beyond the immediate inhumane harm being suffered. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the nation’s leading authority on pediatric care, states that “highly stressful experiences, like family separation, can cause irreparable harm” and “can carry lifelong consequences for children.”

Music Therapy interventions serve a unique role in trauma-informed care in addition to being a treatment for mental and physical illnesses and educational challenges.  In adherence to Article II of the organizational Bylaws, AMTA is committed to providing music therapy services that contribute to the “betterment of the public health and welfare.” AMTA President Amber Weldon-Stephens states, “The issue of immigrant children being separated from their parents is impossible to ignore. AMTA urges members of Congress to take the necessary steps to end family separations.”

In all advocacy activities, no matter the topic, the power of the collective voice is of the utmost importance.  Acknowledging the current events our nation is experiencing, AMTA encourages members to exercise their rights and responsibilities as Americans to contact their legislators and voice their opinions to effect change. And don’t forget about the power of your vote in November! For assistance with finding your congressional representatives, please visit:  https://www.musictherapy.org/policy/findlegislators/

 

 

 

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