The following is a media release submitted to SOURCE media.
FRAMINGHAM – Senators James B. Eldridge (D-Acton) and Nick Collins (D-Boston), and Representatives Nika C. Elugardo (D-Jamaica Plain) and Jack Lewis (D-Framingham) along with 44 of their colleagues called on the Massachusetts congressional delegation to advocate on behalf of the many small businesses in their districts that have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and are not eligible to receive benefits from the federal CARES Act.
The letter asks delegation members to advocate for language to be included in the next round of federal stimulus legislation that would create a fund to backstop insurance companies to pay claims for business interruptions due to the COVID-19; and create a federal small business grant program that would ensure that small businesses that have been disproportionately negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic receive the financial assistance they need.
“Small Business owners are in a financial crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, while facing the requirement to pay rent, various business costs and employee wages. If we are serious about protecting our small businesses and their employees, we need to take comprehensive
federal action to back them up through inclusive insurance reforms,” said Senator Eldridge.
“Our small businesses are the backbones of our communities, and they need our support now more than ever,” said Senator Collins. “This simple policy change will make a huge difference for businesses that have been paying insurance premiums for exactly a situation like this, and I’m
proud to join my colleagues in calling for insurance companies to do the right thing here.”
The senators and representatives noted in their letter the disproportionate effect that the lack of pandemic protections in insurance policies has on people of color and immigrants: “[Small businesses] are the lifeblood of our communities and the pathway out of poverty for so many families, especially in communities of color,” said Representative Elugardo. “Ensuring that business interruption insurance is fully funded for COVID-19-related business disasters is core to the mission shared by the federal and local governments to protect our homegrown entrepreneurs and to help them land on their feet positioned to thrive again after this pandemic.”
“Small businesses are the cornerstone of our local lives, adding to the vibrant, diverse tapestry that turns a town into a community. Small businesses have always been there for us, providing gift cards for silent auctions and donated refreshments for sporting events, and we have a
responsibility to be there for them during these uncertain times,” said Representative Lewis. “I am honored to join my colleagues in calling on Congress to do more to protect the embodiment of so many families’ hopes and hard work.”
In April, Senator Eldridge filed S.D. 2888, An Act Concerning Business Interruption Insurance, a bill which would require insurers to cover losses arising from business interruptions related to COVID-19, allow insurers to apply for reimbursement for the costs through the Division of Insurance, and allow the Division of Insurance to reimburse licensed insurers that sell business interruption coverage.
Now, the four legislators are advocating for federal action on this issue.