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For information on Coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services by clicking here, or the CDC website by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions

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For a list of resources available to Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.

Providers

Q: What assistance is being provided to hospitals?

A: The CARES Act allocates $100 billion in direct aid for hospitals through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. Montana health care providers received more than $111 million in assistance, and additional funding is expected for distribution as the federal government allocates the remainder of the Emergency Fund. These funds can be used for critical supplies like personal protective equipment, increases in workforce, construction to house new patients, emergency operations, and more.

Q: What is the process and criteria for hospitals, health systems, and health care providers to access this funding?

A: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will review applications and make payments to providers on a rolling basis.

Q: What support is being provided community health centers?

A: The CARES Act allocates $1.3 billion for Community Health Centers. The bill also expands telehealth access to include Community Health Centers.

Q: My facility is facing supply and/or personnel shortages. What can I do?

A: Facilities facing shortages of personal protective equipment can contact their local Disaster Emergency Services (DES) Coordinator and register their need with the State of Montana. Find your local DES Coordinator here.

Q: I work at a State Veterans Home and I don’t have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) or supplies. What support can VA provide?

A: In addition to requesting emergency supplies and PPE from your county or state emergency coordinator, the CARES Act also allows VA to share PPE and supplies with State Veterans Homes to keep residents and staff safe. Contact your local VA Medical Center to see what support VA can provide.

Q: I’m a home health care worker for the VA, can I receive PPE for providing home care services to veterans?

A: Yes. The CARES Act requires VA to provide PPE to any home health worker employed by or contracted with VA to provide services to veterans.

Patients

Q: Do I have to have insurance to get tested for COVID-19?

A: No. Every Montanan, insured or not, has access to free testing. If you think you may be displaying symptoms, call your doctor or contact your local county or tribal health department to speak to a provider about next steps. Local health departments can be found here.

Q: I am a veteran living in a rural area and am being told that my appointments will now be through telehealth, but I can’t afford internet services or don’t have a good internet connection. How will this bill help me?

A: Veterans who have cell service or a landline can make a telephone appointment with VA. Veterans with access to mobile data using Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, or TracFone can use the VA Anywhere to Anywhere telehealth app without data charges. If you don’t have access to a smart phone or computer, talk to your provider and local VA about getting an iPad or other tablet to access care via telehealth.

Q: I am a veteran not currently enrolled in VA health care, but I have an urgent or acute health care need and I’m having trouble accessing care in my community. Is there anything the VA can do for me?

A: On April 7th, VA announced that the Department will see and treat any Veteran — even if you are not yet enrolled in VA health care — but please call VA first. VA recognizes that this is a time of great concern and that some of your community physicians are not available, so VA wants to encourage any veteran needing care to call VA about their health care needs. VA will work on your enrollment after taking care of your acute health care need. See VA’s statement here.

Employers:

Q: I’m seeing direct impacts to my business due to COVID-19, and I need help covering operating expenses and payroll. What can I do?

A: The Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses with zero-fee loans of up to $10 million to cover payroll and other operating expenses. Up to 8 weeks of payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs can be forgiven. Payments toward both the loan principal and interest are deferred for one year. More information on this program can be found here.

Q: How do I apply for an emergency loan through the Small Business Administration to support my small business?

A: The Small Business Administration has drastically expanded access to low-interest loans to help businesses, nonprofits, and the self-employed during this outbreak. To apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) through the Small Business Administration, visit disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

NOTE: The SBA announced April 16th that it is temporarily suspending applications due to funding. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Senator Tester is working to shore up this program so businesses in need of relief can access it.

Employees

Q: How much can I get from unemployment insurance?

A:. The CARES Act temporarily increases weekly unemployment insurance payments by $600. This increase is in addition to ordinary unemployment benefits, and the combined benefits represent nearly 100 percent of wages for the average American.

Q: I’m not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance. Am I eligible under the CARES Act?

A: Yes. The CARES Act temporarily increased flexibility in unemployment insurance to cover folks that are self-employed, part-time, or gig economy workers, in addition to other workers that would not typically qualify.

Q: How do I apply for unemployment insurance?

A: Montanans can find the unemployment insurance application here.

Q: Is there any relief for rent or mortgage payments?

A: Yes. Homeowners with federally backed mortgages may request forbearance on payments for up to 12 months with no fees, penalties, or extra interest. Landlords with rental properties backed by federal loans are also eligible for forbearance on their loans for 90 days, and during this time cannot evict or charge late fees or other penalties to tenants for nonpayment of rent.

Q: Is there any relief for student loan repayments? How does this affect my Public Student Loan Forgiveness eligibility?

A: Yes. Federal student loan repayments are in deferral until October 2020. During this time, borrowers will not be subjected to involuntary collections and will not have any negative credit reporting for late payments. Student borrowers will continue to receive credit toward Public Student Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment forgiveness, and loan rehabilitation even though they will not be making payments. Borrowers can continue making payments during this time if they so choose.

Q: I am a student veteran, and my school is converting to online education because of COVID-19, will I still receive my housing allowance?

A: Yes. VA will continue to make housing allowance payments to students using VA education benefits at the on campus rate, if the school converted to online education due to COVID-19.

Q: When is the new deadline for filing federal and state taxes?

A: The IRS has pushed the federal filing deadline to July 15th. Governor Bullock has pushed the Montana State tax filing deadline to July 15th.

Q: Do I still need to get a REAL ID driver’s license by the October deadline?

A: No. The deadline to obtain a REAL ID has been postponed. A new deadline has not yet been announced.

Economic Impact Payments:

Q: Am I eligible for the economic impact payments included in the CARES Act? How much will I get?

A: Most folks will be eligible—single tax filers with income less than $75,000 will receive the full $1,200 payment. Eligible joint filers will receive up to $2,400. If you have children, you will also receive $500 per child. More information on the economic impact payments can be found here.

Q: What if I didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019?

A: The IRS is urging anyone with a tax filing obligation to file their returns as soon as possible to ensure they receive an economic stimulus payment.

Q: I don't typically file a tax return. What can I do?

A: The IRS will use information on the Form SSA-1099 or Form RBR-1099 for certain folks not required to file taxes. This includes senior citizens, Social Security recipients, and railroad retirees. For other non-filers, you can submit your payment information directly to the IRS here.

Q: My 2018 and 2019 returns did not include my direct deposit information. How will I receive the stimulus payment?

A: The Treasury Department set up an online portal called “Get My Payment”, allowing folks to check the status of their impact payments and submit banking information to the IRS. You can access that portal here. If you are eligible to receive the payment and do not provide your banking information, you will receive your payment in the mail.

Q: What are some tips to avoid stimulus payment scams?

A: The IRS has urged folks to be on the lookout for potential scam calls and email phishing attempts in the wake of the outbreak. The IRS will not initiate contact with folks over the phone, via text, or through email to ask for personal information. Report unsolicited emails, texts, or social media outreach to gather personal information to phishing@irs.gov.

Tribes:

Q: The Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities serving my Tribe are dangerously low on personal protective equipment and other medical supplies. Are there resources to help us make sure our health care workers have the supplies they need?

A: The CARES Act provides IHS with over $1 billion in emergency supplemental funding to purchase personal protective equipment and other medical supplies. IHS is working with Tribes and urban Indian health centers to distribute these funds. In addition to the over $1 billion in emergency supplemental funding for IHS, Tribes are eligible to receive health-specific resources from HRSA’s Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program and the Center for Disease Control.

Q: My Tribe is having difficulty covering essential services due to the economic impact of COVID-19. What options are available to my Tribe to continue operating essential services?

A: The CARES Act created an $8 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for Tribes and Tribal enterprises. The Department of Treasury will release guidance on these funds in the coming weeks. Find the most most up-to-date information on the Tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund here.

Q: My Tribe needs to set up COVID-19 response child care coverage to help the families of health care workers, emergency personnel, and other “front line” workers. Are there resources to help with this?

A: Tribes will receive funds through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Child Care Development Block Grant Program to provide child care assistance to essential employees and support child care providers. Contact your Tribe for more information about the status of these funds.

Q: Instead of paying traditional unemployment insurance premiums, my Tribe/Tribal business opts to pay a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement to State unemployment programs for any unemployment costs incurred by former Tribal employees. Will my Tribe/Tribal business be eligible for unemployment insurance reimbursements?

A: Through the Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations provision, the CARES Act reduces the amount Tribes and their Tribally owned business entities are required to reimburse states for benefits paid to their workers who claim unemployment insurance by 50 percent through December 31, 2020. Tribes and Tribal businesses that incur additional unemployment insurance costs in 2020 are also eligible to make a claim for reimbursement through the Tribal Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Q: Internet access is very limited on my reservation and families can’t afford the equipment needed for online learning. Are there resources to help address this learning gap for Native students?

A: Federally recognized Tribes and nonprofits can apply for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants administered by the Rural Utility Service. These funds can be used to purchase IT equipment and supplement distance learning resources. Federally recognized Tribes and nonprofits can also apply for the Re-connect Loan and Grant Program, which offers loans and grants to build infrastructure and install equipment that provides modern, reliable, high-speed Internet service.

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Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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