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Gov. Evers announces COVID-19 relief bills, GOP leader also plans to reveal his own

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MADISON (WKOW) -- After more than six months since the Legislature last met to pass legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Tony Evers is announcing a series of bills related to the coronavirus crisis as infections rage across the state.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, is also planning to reveal a package of initiatives to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and "assist Wisconsinites during these challenging times," according to a press release from his office. A press conference to reveal the bills is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Governor Evers office released a package of bills to give more flexibility to hospitals, pharmacists, and the state health department throughout the pandemic and also provides relief to those who are struggling financially.

HEALTH CARE

One bill would allow critical workers, including healthcare workers, to claim worker’s compensation benefits related to COVID-19, presuming they got sick on the job.

Evers introduced a bill that will, when a vaccine is available, would ensure health insurance plans provide coverage for those who want to get vaccinated. It also would require coverage for testing, diagnosis, treatment, prescriptions related to COVID-19.

Under another proposal, insurers would be required to cover all telehealth services the same as in-person services. Another proposal gives flexibility to pharmacists to extend most prescription refills by 30 days through 2021.

UNEMPLOYMENT

As thousands still wait for their unemployment claims, Evers announced that he wants to suspend the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance through the end of 2021. Currently, the waiting period is set to go back into effect at the end of this year.

The governor is also seeking to allow the Department of Workforce Development to enact rules relaxing work search requirements.

Another proposal would waive provisions of the Work-Share program through next year.

Social Security Disability recipients would also receive concurrent unemployment insurance benefits, under one proposal.

The Department of Health Services would also be allowed to issue an order prohibiting evictions and foreclosures, waive interest, penalties, or payments on governmental loans and debt through the end of
2021.

SCHOOLS AND FAMILY

To give schools more flexible to during the pandemic, Evers is seeking to waive student assessments and school report card requirements for the 2020-21 school year.

Another would allow rehiring of retired teachers and reinstate their licenses to help alleviate shortages at K-12 schools.

Other proposals include:

  • Prohibit insurers from requiring prior authorization or imposing quantity limitations below a 90 days supply through the end of 2021.
  • Provide the Division of Personnel Management with additional flexibility to state agencies to retain and recruit staff to help ensure that state agencies can dedicate the maximum level of resources to the emergency response.
  • Establish that insurers will reimburse providers for out-of-network care (including telehealth) resulting from COVID-19 related disruptions at 250% of Medicare rates.
  • Waive in-person appearance requirements through the end of 2021.
  • Allow online notaries to perform online notarization of estate planning documents (such as wills and trusts) through the end of 2021. This would afford Wisconsinites who want to do estate planning during the pandemic the ability to do so remotely.
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