As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the state and the nation, lawmakers and the governor are urging Missourians to take the proper precautions to help protect the health and safety of all citizens. Missourians are currently under a statewide order issued by the Department of Health and Senior Services that requires all citizens to practice appropriate social distancing.

The order requires:

1.      Every person in the State of Missouri to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. Social gatherings are defined as any planned or spontaneous event that brings together more than 10 people in a single space at the same time.

2.      Every person in the state to avoid eating or drinking at restaurants, bars, or food courts. The order does allow for drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.

3.      Missourians to not visit nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, or assisted living homes unless to provide critical assistance.

4.      All schools to remain closed. The order does not prohibit schools from providing child care and food and nutritional services for children who qualify.

 Missourians should be aware the order does not prohibit them from visiting places such as grocery stores, gas stations, parks, and banks, so long as necessary precautions are taken and maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, including maintaining at least six feet of distance between all individuals that are not family members.

For offices and workplaces that remain open, individuals must practice good hygiene and, where feasible, work from home in order to achieve optimum isolation from COVID-19.

The order took effect March 23 and will remain in effect until Monday, April 6 unless extended by further order.

“This is a serious time for our state and nation, and we must continue taking all steps necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Governor Mike Parson said.  “The more people reduce their public contact, the sooner the virus will be contained and the sooner we can overcome this challenge."

Important Information for Missourians as they Deal with the Impact of COVID-19

In response to the continued spread of the coronavirus in Missouri, Gov. Parson and his administration have made several important changes to help all those who are being impacted by COVID-19.

Missourians should be aware of the following important changes:

Missouri Medicaid-MO HealthNet

 Eligibility for any Medicaid participant will not be terminated unless the individual requests a voluntary termination of eligibility or the individual ceases to be a resident of the state through the end of the federal emergency COVID-19 declaration

Extending 90 days of MO HealthNet coverage to Missourians ages 19-64 who test positive for COVID-19 and meet the income and resource eligibility guidelines

Relaxing requirements related to prescription refills and prior authorizations to ensure participants have access to essential medications

Expediting new provider enrollment applications and waiving certain enrollment requirements such as application fees and on-site visits to enable providers to serve Medicaid participants

Waiving the co-payment for any services provided by means of telehealth

Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Family Support Division is waiving all work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents for 90 days

Child Care Subsidy Program

Child Care Subsidy benefits are extended for 90 days

Provider application renewals are extended for 90 days

Approve additional hours of care for families on a case-by-case basis

Family Support Division has requested waivers from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service to:

Waive all Food Stamp adverse action notices for 90 days

Waive initial in-person Food Stamp interviews for 90 days

Extend Food Stamp certification periods by 6 months - this waiver has been received

Relief for Missouri Families and Businesses

Filing deadline extended: The deadline to file income tax returns has been extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.

Payment relief for individuals and corporations: Income tax payment deadlines for individual and corporate income returns with a due date of April 15, 2020, are extended until July 15, 2020. This payment relief applies to all individual income tax returns, income tax returns filed by C Corporations, and income tax returns filed by trusts or estates. The Department of Revenue will automatically provide this relief, so filers do not need to take any additional steps to qualify.

This relief for individuals and corporations will also include estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15, 2020.

Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020. Individuals and corporations that file their return or request an extension of time to file by July 15, 2020, will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the tax paid by July 15.

Vehicle owners with registrations or license plates expiring in March and April have been granted an automatic two-month extension. Owners will be able to continue operating their vehicles on Missouri roadways without penalty until they can apply for renewal.

The time frame in which a vehicle safety and emission inspection is valid for March and April license plate expirations has also been extended an additional 60 days. Applicants for title will not be assessed a late title penalty when visiting a license office, effective immediately; this waiver will continue through April 30, 2020.

Valid Missouri driver licenses, nondriver licenses and noncommercial instruction permits with original expiration dates of March 1, 2020, through April 30, 2020, have been granted an automatic 60-day extension.

Help for Small Businesses and Non-Profits

·         The U.S. Small Business Administration approved Missouri’s request for assistance through the federal agency’s disaster loan program. This move makes low interest disaster loans available to small businesses and private non-profits severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

·         SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for each affected small business or non-profit. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

·         Applicants will be able to apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Attorney General Urges Missourians to Report Instances of Coronavirus Scams and Price Gouging

 Attorney General Eric Schmitt this week wrote a letter to lawmakers detailing efforts to protect Missourians from coronavirus scams and price gouging. Schmitt asked lawmakers to encourage their constituents to report any and all possible unscrupulous activities.

Schmitt wrote, “During this difficult time our office urges consumers, hospital staff or anyone who has information about potential scams and price gouging to report those instances to our office. If we do receive complaints and we can take legal action, we will.”

The Attorney General’s Office works to protect consumers and ensure a fair marketplace by enforcing Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act. Missourians who want to report unscrupulous businesses and individuals can contact the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or online at ago.mo.gov.

The Attorney General’s Office also has made it easier to report COVID-19 price gouging with a new form located online. The form allows Missouri consumers to answer price gouging-specific questions, streamlines the form process, and makes it easier for the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team to track these specific consumer complaints. It can be found at https://ago.mo.gov/civil-division/consumer/price-gouging.

 “Anyone who seeks to defraud consumers should know that the Missouri Attorney General’s Office is watching, and we will take action wherever possible to protect Missourians.”

It's an honor to serve you in the Missouri House. If you would like to discuss an issue, please call 573-751-9459. You can also email me at randy.pietzman@house.mo.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.