State Spotlight June 18, 2020
As our nation once again grapples with the historic inequities in our criminal justice system, policy makers also continue to be confronted with the disparities in our health care system. The COVID pandemic is disproportionately impacting people of color and other vulnerable populations. Policy makers continue to take action to respond to the public health crisis and resulting economic impacts. Below is a snapshot of the most innovative action we saw in states over the last week. These policies are focused in four priority areas:
- Provide accurate information and clear recommendations on the virus and how to stay healthy and safe.
- Ensure a reliable health care system that is fully resourced to support essential workers and available when it is needed, both now and after the pandemic.
- Provide people with the financial and health care security they need to weather COVID-19 and other health care needs they face.
- Ensure a health care system that cares for everyone, including people who are vulnerable and those who were already struggling before the pandemic hit.
Provide accurate information and clear recommendations on the virus and how to stay healthy and safe.
- The Kansas Legislature passed the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Privacy Act, which aims to protect the privacy of individuals whose information is collected through contact tracing and maintain the confidentiality of contact tracing data.
- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced the state currently has 900 contract tracers employed, but with further reopening, the state is prepared to nearly triple that number by the end of June. The state will hire an additional 4,000 contact tracers, if necessary. (news source)
- Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order that authorizes the Arizona Department of Health Services to implement a state-wide contact-tracing initiative utilizing 300 Arizona National Guardsmen with an initial investment of $37 million.
- Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that face mask coverings will be required to be worn in indoor public spaces in three additional counties. This decision comes one week after Governor Brown paused county applications for transitions to subsequent reopening phases in light of additional COVID cases. The restrictions were put in place to prevent caseload spikes that could put hospital capacity at risk.
- At least six bars in northern and central Florida have announced their closures amid new COVID-19 cases amongst their staff and patrons. (news source)
Ensure a reliable health care system that is fully resourced to support essential workers and available when it is needed, both now and after the pandemic.
- Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced hospitals across Wisconsin will receive direct payments from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to assist with lost revenue and expenses they’ve incurred related to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, April, and May 2020. The department will distribute these payments from $40 million of funding provided to Wisconsin under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Provide people with the financial and health care security they need to weather COVID-19 and other health care needs they face.
- Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced his administration will revive the state health insurance exchange launched in 2013 under the Affordable Care Act in order to make health coverage more easily accessible to Kentuckians. (news source)
Ensure a health care system that cares for everyone, including people who are vulnerable and those who were already struggling before the pandemic hit.
- The Colorado Legislature passed a bill to expand access to telehealth in the state. The new law prohibits insurance carriers from imposing specific technological or origination site requirements for telehealth services and allows providers to offer telehealth services to new patients.
- The Colorado Legislature also passed a bipartisan bill to strengthen vaccination rates by standardizing non-medical exemption contestations and establishing an Immunization Tracking System, which would notify the caretakers of unvaccinated children should an outbreak occur. Families can opt their child out of this database.
- Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Division of Emergency Management is coordinating with local officials, public health officials, and emergency management offices in cities across the state to identify and rapidly expand COVID-19 testing in underserved and minority communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.