The Wisconsin State Assembly met on Tuesday to approve the Coronavirus Response Bill. There was a collaborative effort in crafting the legislation, using input from Democrats, Republicans, workers, business owners, healthcare providers and constituents. The result was a bill that bolsters the state’s response to the public health emergency and a near unanimous vote, which proves that our state can come together during these unprecedented times.
We know this past month has been a difficult one for everyone in Wisconsin. People on the front lines of the pandemic have been working around the clock and others are doing their job by being safer at home. We appreciate everything that people are doing whether it is putting in longer hours stocking store shelves or helping their children attend class virtually.
Since March 12th, there have been more than 385,000 people who have filed an initial unemployment claim, compared to 27,000 during the same period last year. We have heard countless stories of people struggling to get access to the resources they need. That's why the Assembly acted on the bipartisan Coronavirus Response Bill. It will help the state address the challenges from the coronavirus outbreak and assist those who are out of work.
Here are some of the measures that are included in the bill.
• Waives the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits
• Removes co-pays for COVID-19 testing
• Expands SeniorCare to cover vaccinations
• Allows pharmacists to extend prescriptions
• Sets aside $75 million in state funds for future emergency needs
• Qualify Wisconsin for extra federal resources to help fund Medicaid
• Eases regulatory requirements for healthcare professionals and emergency medical responders
• Asks WEDC to develop a plan to help the state's major industries to recover
Taking action now ensures Wisconsin will receive the entire $2 billion in federal assistance that Governor Evers has sole discretion over spending. When allocating the dollars, Assembly Republicans have asked the governor to prioritize the needs of the health care industry, workers, small businesses and local governments.
The state Senate will take up the bill tomorrow. It will then go to the governor for his signature.
While we don’t know exactly what lies ahead for Wisconsin, I’m proud that this bill will provide a level of certainty during these very uncertain times.