Friday, April 17, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf announced his Plan for Pennsylvania: Relief, Reopening and Recovery, which encompasses his vision for Pennsylvania residents, employers and, specifically, our health care system and providers.

The governor outlined his reopening principles sans a timeline. His plan for businesses includes the broad contours of a policy agenda to support a post-COVID-19 economy that may be explored or include:

  • Short and long-term financial support for small businesses.
  • Creating a construction job tax credit for manufacturing or processing facilities.
  • Exploring residential and commercial/business construction incentives.
  • Exploring manufacturing tax credits for manufacturers who convert or retrofit their facilities or operations in order to produce personal protective equipment.
  • Upgrading and expanding Pennsylvania’s broadband network.
  • Investments in our diverse agriculture industry, robust food processing sector, farmers markets and the many industries that support a safe food supply.
  • Renewing support for his PA Farm Bill and budget proposal.
  • Establishing a food processing reimbursement fund for worker safety measures.
  • Providing a state match for double up SNAP bucks to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat products at participating grocery stores and farmers markets.
  • Eliminating the Unemployment Compensation Fund contribution for H2A employers and employees.
  • Funding for nonprofit organizations and local governments with less than 500,000 residents.
  • Investment and upgrades for the commonwealth’s mass transit systems, highway, and bridge infrastructure.

The Wolf administration has taken actions to help meet the short and long-term needs of individual Pennsylvanians. The governor’s proposed recovery framework includes:

  • Minimum wage increase.
  • Hazard pay for essential front-line workers.
  • Worker protections.
  • Expansion of paid sick and family leave policies.
  • Improved access to childcare.
  • Unemployment Compensation expansion for self-employed and gig economy workers.
  • Expansion of Workers’ Compensation (WC) to essential workers at life-sustaining businesses that are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 at work.
  • Updating education support and training to reflect increased reliance on distance and remote learning.
  • Student loan forgiveness and repayment programs.
  • Rapid re-employment programs to support business and workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the fragmentations within our health systems.According to Governor Wolf, the policy agenda to support the health and recovery of Pennsylvania’s residents must include:

  • Health care coverage for all Pennsylvanians that is affordable and transparent, and a system that allows for choice in coverage.
    • Ensuring the that people with pre-existing conditions, including Pennsylvanians recovered from COVID-19, can obtain full coverage without caps on coverage.
    • Making sure that patients who seek out in-network care are not surprised with a bill for treatment by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility.
    • Requiring transparency in short-term limited duration insurance products and protecting consumers who need to fill an unexpected gap in coverage.
  • Cutting bureaucratic red tape and making it easier for new Pennsylvanians, including military spouses, with an out-of-state occupational license to work.
  • Amending reciprocal licensure requirements for out-of-state practitioners.
  • Telehealth legislation and additional policies.
  • Housing options to safely discharge homeless patients.
  • Prioritizing home and community-based services to reduce institutional placements for children, individuals with disabilities and seniors.
  • Increased role for community-based organizations in health and wellness activities and health care delivery.