Hogan signs COVID-19 public health emergency act

Coronavirus

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who chairs the National Governors Association, announces five priorities that governors are asking of the federal government to fight the coronavirus during a news conference Thursday, March 19, 2020 in Annapolis, Md. Maj. Gen. Timothy Gowen, the adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard is standing left. Karen Salmon, Maryland’s superintendent of schools, is standing right. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

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MARYLAND (WDVM) — A new Maryland bill was signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan Thursday to support emergency action during the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor’s office said Hogan signed the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020 on Thursday, and it “specifies additional measures that the governor may take to address the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including facilitating access and delivery of health care.”

The act empowers the governor to:

  • Prohibit cost-sharing by insurance carriers for COVID-19 testing and associated costs
  • Establish or waive telehealth protocols
  • Require carriers and Medicaid to cover a COVID-19 immunization (should one be developed) and any associated costs, without cost-sharing, for certain patients
  • Work with the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), the Maryland Insurance Commissioner, and the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to minimize disruption in enrollment in health insurance and Medicaid
  • Allow MDH to offer more flexibility in staffing during the state of emergency
  • Prohibit employers from terminating an employee solely on the basis that the employee has been required to be isolated or quarantined or if the individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection COVID–19 or to care for a family member due to COVID-19
  • Provides flexibility to the Secretary of Labor to allow workers who have not been terminated to collect unemployment insurance if their employer has been closed due to COVID-19, if they have been quarantined, or if they are caring for a family member who is quarantined

The bill also prevents retailers to price gouge essential items like food and fuel during the pandemic.

A list of ongoing state actions is available at governor.maryland.gov/coronavirus.

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