Finally, a COVID-19 Relief Bill
April 15, 2020 — Just an hour after passage by the Senate (32-0) and one day after the Assembly approved it (97-2), Gov. Tony Evers signed the Wisconsin COVID-19 Bill.
IT TOOK TOO LONG. IT’S A START. IT’S GOOD ENOUGH, FOR NOW
Here is what we like about the new law.
- It lifts a one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance in Wisconsin
- It requires health insurers to cover COVID-19 testing and it bars insurers from discriminating against people who have or have had the virus.
- It clears the way for Wisconsin to qualify for additional federal Medicaid funding made possible by the $2 trillion U.S. CARES Act that passed Congress in March.
- It provides some $8 million in fuel assistance to households in need.
- It empowers the joint finance committee to make limited, within-program transfers in rapid response to changing needs.
- THE BILL FAILS TO REQUIRE insurers to cover the total cost of all testing, treatment, prescriptions and vaccines related to COVID-19.
We will continue to advocate for total coverage for treatment.
- IT LACKS meaningful support for small businesses, farmers, and local communities.
- IT FAILS to protect first responders, childcare providers and healthcare workers with hazard pay or workers compensation.
- IT LEAVES QUESTIONS about how the state will respond to COVID-19 after the emergency powers expire on May 11. Minority leader Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) and others are fighting to extend these powers indefinitely for the duration of the pandemic.
- IT DID NOT INCLUDE proposed measures to have absentee ballots sent to all registered voters in advance of the next elections.
- MIXED REVIEWS: The new law reduces licensing requirements for Certified Nursing Assistants; this item had faced previous objections by Democrats, and two Assembly members voted against the COVID-19 Bill entirely in opposition to this item, stating that it harms quality and labor protections.
We will continue to watch and report on this important chapter in our communities.
Our sources have included: