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Gov. Evers announces new COVID-19 relief package, GOP leaders also have plan

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 5:47 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced another series of COVID-19 relief bills – the second package of bills released by the administration since the pandemic’s onset nearly eight months ago.

The bills come as Wisconsin COVID-19 cases and deaths are skyrocketing. Over 323K positive cases have been reported to date, and 2,741 deaths.

The proposed package of 19 bills aims to improve access to health care, reduce the cost of critical health care services and provide support to families, among other things.

Improved access to health care

Under the proposed package, insurers will be required to cover all telehealth services that would be covered were the services provided in-person.

Further, pharmacists would be allowed to extend most prescription refills by 30 days through the end of 2021, where it is safe to do so.

Reduced cost of health care

The package proposes that health plans provide coverage for testing, diagnosis, treatment, prescriptions and vaccines related to COVID-19. According to the Governor, a recent study found that Americans were avoiding the use of health care services even if they had insurance for fear of financial repercussions.

Another bill will allow critical workers, including health care workers, to claim worker’s compensation benefits related to COVID-19, presuming they got sick while on the job.

Reduced spread of COVID-19 by helping people to stay home

Under another bill, all in-person appearance requirements would be waived through the end of 2021.

Economic Protection and Support

DHS would be able to issue an order prohibiting evictions and foreclosures, as well as waive interest, penalties or payments on governmental loans and debt through the end of 2021, should the bill come to pass.

Additionally, the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance would be suspended through the end of 2021.

Certain parameters of the Work-Share program would also be waived through the end of 2021. Specifically, the provision would waive the following requirements:

  • The requirement that the reduction in working hours under a work-share program must be at least 10% but not more than 50%.
  • The requirement that at least 10% of the employees in a work unit be included.
  • The requirement that the employer provide for initial coverage of at least 20 positions

Work search requirements would also be relaxed, and all social security disability recipients would be allowed to receive concurrent unemployment insurance benefits.

Flexibility to support children and families

Student assessments and report cards requirements for the 2020-21 school year would be waived to help lift the burden on schools as they try to adapt to the changing circumstances.

Rehiring of retired teachers and reinstating their teaching licenses to help with staff shortages would also be allowed.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also released ideas for COVID-19 relief measures Tuesday during a news conference, wanting to focus on increasing the number of contact tracers and rapid tests.

The governor’s office pointed out that the Assembly GOP have not drafted a bill of their own yet and Tuesday’s proposal were just to discuss talking points.

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