California — Newsom Wants a $2.7 Billion COVID Package: Governor Newsom’s Administration unveiled a proposed $2.7 billion COVID-19 Emergency Response Package – including a $1.4 billion emergency appropriation request – to bolster testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers, strengthen the health care system and battle misinformation. The Governor’s budget also calls for new legislation to implement supplemental paid sick leave policies given the current situation being driven by the Omicron variant to better protect our frontline workers.
“From day one, California has taken swift and direct action to battle COVID-19 with policies that have saved tens of thousands of lives, but there’s more work to be done,” said Governor Newsom. “Our proposed COVID-19 Emergency Response Package will support our testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers and health care systems and battle misinformation, with a focus on the hardest-hit communities.”
Governor Newsom’s overall package includes:
$1.2 BILLION: BOLSTER TESTING
Expand hours and capacity at testing sites throughout the state to help slow the spread.
Distribute millions of COVID-19 antigen tests to local health departments, community clinics and county offices of education and schools. This is critical to the state’s operational readiness and continued efforts to combat COVID-19, and it includes a $1.4 billion emergency appropriation request to the Legislature for California’s immediate needs.
Supporting the state’s testing facilities, including specimen collection and expanding capacity in order to meet demand.
Supporting state departments in testing their staff and congregate populations
$583 MILLION: GET MORE CALIFORNIANS VACCINATED & BOOSTED, COMBAT MISINFORMATION
Continue the “Vaccinate all 58” public education campaign to provide reliable information and build vaccine confidence while combating misinformation, all of which is in partnership with 250 ethnic media outlets.
Continue a robust community outreach and direct appointment assistance campaign by conducting door-to-door canvassing, phone banking and texting with over 700 CBOs and community partners in partnership with philanthropy.
In-home vaccination and testing programs to meet Californians where they’re at.
Provide free transportation to vaccination appointments throughout the state to help get more Californians vaccinated and boosted.
$614 MILLION: SUPPORT OUR FRONTLINE WORKERS AND HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS
Support and distribution of critical personnel resources for health care systems to help protect frontline workers, patient care and hospital surge capacity as well as additional staffing for vaccination sites.
$200 MILLION: SUPPORT STATE RESPONSE OPERATIONS
Resources to enhance the state’s emergency response and public health capacities, including staffing and information technology at California Department of Public Health, Office of Emergency Services and Emergency Medical Services Authority.
$110 MILLION: SUPPORT VULNERABLE POPULATIONS AND BOLSTER CONTACT TRACING EFFORTS
Increased public health and humanitarian efforts at the California-Mexico border to keep migrants safe, including vaccinations, testing and isolation and quarantine services.
Expanded statewide contact tracing activities to help keep Californians safe and slow the spread.
Health care leaders applauded Governor Newsom’s proposed action to protect Californians and expand efforts to combat this pandemic:
“This Emergency Response Package to boost testing, vaccine distribution and support health care workers comes at a critical time as cases of the Omicron variant surge nationwide,” said California Medical Association (CMA) President Robert E. Wailes, M.D. “The California Medical Association appreciates Governor Newsom’s leadership as his administration continues to work to anticipate the state’s needs and implement strong public health measures that will save lives.”
“As the current Omicron surge demonstrates, no one knows for how long the COVID-19 pandemic will endure or the enormity of its impact on California for years to come,” said President & CEO of the California Hospital Association Carmela Coyle. “What we do know is that the demands on our state’s health care system have never been greater, and we need all the support we can get. The Governor’s request for this funding, including resources to shore up a depleted workforce, represents a vital step toward making sure the health care needs of every Californian are met as a crisis with no known end date continues to claim lives every day.”
“Governor Newsom’s announcement today to invest $2.7 billion in ongoing COVID-19 emergency response comes at a pivotal time in our fight against this deadly disease and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. We commend the Governor for taking these decisive actions to help protect the health and well-being of local communities through the expansion of vaccines, testing, and booster shots and efforts to combat misinformation that has caused unnecessary deaths and illness. These actions will ultimately help save lives, which remains a top priority for local public health,” said Executive Director of the County Health Executives Association of California Michelle Gibbons.
California has led the nation’s fight against COVID-19, implementing early public health measures to protect Californians, and has invested an unprecedented $11.2 billion throughout the pandemic – actions that have saved tens of thousands of lives. The state has administered more than 66 million vaccinations and boosters and has maintained one of the lowest death rates among large states. In the face of Omicron, California has ramped up testing capacity at an unprecedented speed – deploying the National Guard, expanding hours and access to California’s testing sites, delivering 9.6 million tests to schools since early December with another 3.3 million tests out for delivery, and ensuring that 90% of Californians are within a 30-minute drive of testing sites.
California — Lara Says New Insurance Laws for 2022 Will Protect Californians: California consumers and hard-working families will have additional insurance protections under new laws now in effect in 2022. These include laws that provide new health coverage options for older adults being cared for by their adult children, expand requirements for medically necessary basic health care services including women’s reproductive services, and increase insurance oversight to protect the safety of people recovering from substance use disorders and prevent child abuse by youth volunteers.
The California Department of Insurance will also implement new insurance requirements to protect those held in for-profit detention facilities and prisons – the first law of its kind nationwide.
“We are protecting Californians’ health with new coverage options for families caring for older adults while preventing discrimination and abuse,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who sponsored these new laws. “My Department of Insurance is using every tool at our disposal to protect consumers including expanding and enforcing insurance laws as well as working with the Legislature and Governor Newsom on creating new laws.”
Assembly Bill 570, authored by Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, will increase access to health coverage and help reduce coverage costs for older adults by allowing adult children to add their dependent parents, or step-parents, to their health coverage policies in the individual market just as dependent children can currently be added to their parents’ health coverage. The Department of Insurance will be implementing the new coverage option, which will be made available during the open enrollment period starting in November 2022, with coverage effective January 1, 2023.
Senate Bill 280, authored by Senator Monique Limón, will remove discriminatory practices in the large group health insurance market by requiring these health insurance policies to cover medically necessary basic health care services such as women’s reproductive services, HIV medicines, cancer treatments, obesity care, and organ transplants. In addition, it codifies the federal Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on discriminatory large group health insurance benefit designs and marketing practices under California law and forbids discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.
Assembly Bill 1158, authored by Assembly Member Cottie Petrie-Norris, will ensure that licensed alcohol or drug abuse recovery and treatment facilities and recovery residences that contract with a government entity maintain minimum insurance coverage levels to ensure more adequate consumer protections.
Assembly Bill 506, authored by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez, will require youth service organizations to implement child abuse and neglect prevention measures, mandate administrators, employees, and regular volunteers of youth service organizations to take training on child abuse and neglect identification and reporting, and permit liability insurance companies to confirm compliance with these requirements.
Senate Bill 334, authored by Senator María Elena Durazo, will require private, for-profit prisons and detention facilities operating in California to adhere to all state and local health, safety, fire, and labor standards already mandated today for state and local publicly managed prisons and facilities while also requiring they obtain workers’ compensation and liability insurance coverage from an admitted insurance carrier authorized by the Department of Insurance to do business in California.
Commissioner Lara has already taken steps to implement these new consumer protection laws:
Ordering insurance companies to cover the costs of injectable PrEP medication to prevent HIV infection in at-risk adults and adolescents. The Federal Drug Administration approved the use of injectable PrEP on December 20, 2021. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control report that growing use of PrEP has helped to decrease new HIV infections. The Commissioner’s Bulletin also directs insurance companies to eliminate discriminatory benefit plans in large group insurance pursuant to SB 280.
Issuing a notice to insurance companies about the new insurance requirements covering for-profit prisons and detention centers under SB 334.
Commissioner Lara thanked Governor Gavin Newsom for protecting California consumers through the signing of 11 bills that he sponsored this past legislative year. These new laws will expand access to insurance, ensure discriminatory insurance practices cannot continue, create critical protection measures in various essential business sectors, increase diversity on insurance company boards, and expand job opportunities for the state’s small and diverse businesses, among others. Visit the Department of Insurance website for a full list.
Washington — Implementation of E2SHB 1477 and consolidated health care rulemaking second stakeholder draft posted: We have released a second stakeholder draft for the Implementation of E2SHB 1477 and consolidated health care rulemaking (R 2021-16). The rule implements the portions of E2SHB 1477 concerning access to next day appointments. This rule is also being used to consolidate rulemaking to ensure that rules related to recently enacted legislation regarding gender affirming treatment, which also amend WAC 284-170-280, are adopted by the OIC. These rules will facilitate implementation of recent laws by ensuring that all affected health care entities understand their rights and obligations.
Comments on the second stakeholder draft are due January 21, 2022; please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, including the second stakeholder draft, please visit the rule’s webpage.
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