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Senator Warner Wants to Protect Workers of Big Businesses

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Almost a million jobs in Virginia were preserved by the Paycheck Protection Program, according to new data from the Small Business Administration. But, that doesn’t help people who work for big businesses.

The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help employees at small businesses. But most people in Virginia work for big businesses, corporations like Dominion Energy or Smithfield.

Senator Mark Warner wants to expand a part of the CARES Act known as the employee retention tax credit. He says his proposal is a way to prevent furloughed workers at big businesses from losing their health insurance.

“You could say those folks could go on Medicaid," he explains. "I think it would be much simpler to keep them attached to their employer through the use of the employee retention tax credit, a piece of legislation that I got into the previous CARES bill.”

Garrett Watson at the Tax Foundation says Warner’s tweak to the existing credit will clear up confusion about health care available to furloughed workers.

“It eliminates any limitation and says for any employee where you see a decline in revenue, you can cover the health insurance through this credit," Watson says. "So it knocks out a lot of those question marks and limitations as it relates to using the credit for health insurance specifically.”

Several other versions of this tweak are floating around Congress right now, but Warner’s is the most generous, offering up to $90,000 a year for each employee.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.