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Assembly Bill 1038

I wanted to send out an update regarding Assembly Bill (AB) 1038 – the Coronavirus Response BillToday, the Assembly took up this bipartisan bill and passed it with a vote of 97-2. The Senate will be voting on the bill in the coming days and hopefully Governor Evers will sign it into law very soon. Below I have outlined portions of the bill that I think might be off interest to the people of the 42nd Assembly District. There is much more to this bill and I encourage you to take a look at it in depth. Below is the link to all the information you need for AB 1038.

If you have any questions about anything that is or isn’t in this bill, please reach out to my office and we will do our best to answer them.

 

One part of this bill I would like to specifically point out is the waiver of the “50 Piece Rule” while under an Emergency Order. Last week, this e-update stated that my office would no longer be able to send out email updates like this because the 50 Piece Rule would be in effect after April 15th. The change in AB 1038 allows elected officials up for reelection to send out more than 50 pieces (or 50 emails) with information regarding COVID 19/the public health emergency. So, my office will continue to legally send updates related to COVID 19 as long as necessary should AB 1038 be signed into law.

 

Here is the link to AB 1038: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/proposals/AB1038

 

See below for more detailed information about some key parts of AB 1038.

 


 

The bill allows the state to capture more Medicaid dollars from the federal government, which will be helpful as more individuals may need to access the coverage due to a loss of work during COVID 19. It also ensures Wisconsin will receive the entire $2 billion in federal assistance. Assembly Republicans have asked the governor to prioritize the needs of the health care industry, workers, small businesses and local governments when allocating these dollars.

Additionally, the legislation provides for the following:

  • Eases licensing requirements for health care professionals and emergency medical responders
  • Allows pharmacists to extend prescriptions
  • Expands SeniorCare to include coverage of vaccinations
  • Ensures no co-pays for COVID-19 testing
  • Prohibits health insurance coverage discrimination based on COVID-19
  • Provides the needed flexibilities to school districts to complete the school year online
  • Sets aside $75 million to address future, unexpected needs that federal dollars don’t cover
  • Requires the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to develop a plan to assist the state’s main industries (tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, construction and retail.

 


 

Below are details about some certain pieces of AB 1038:

 

TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF THE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE WAITING WEEK 

Provide that the waiting week requirement under current law would not apply with respect to benefit years that begin after March 12, 2020, and before February 7, 2021. Require the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to seek the maximum amount of federal reimbursement for benefits that are payable for the first week of a claimant's benefit year as a result of the application of this provision.

 

LOW-INCOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM APPLICATION PERIOD 

Allow households to apply for heating assistance under the low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) any time before December 31, 2020, rather than between October 1 and May 15, as under current law. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides Wisconsin an estimated $8.0 million for the program to support costs associated with home energy bills and weatherization. 

 

COUNTY FAIR AID ELIGIBILITY 

Specify that any currently operating fair eligible to receive county fair aids would remain eligible to receive funding if that fair was cancelled as a result of the public health emergency declared under Executive Order 72, including any extension granted by legislative resolution.

 

AUTHORIZE TRUST FUND LOANS TO MUNICIPAL UTILITIES 

Allow BCPL to offer loans from the common school fund and other school trust funds to nonprofit municipal utilities during the state of emergency declared by the Governor under Executive Order 72, including any extension granted by the Legislature, and up to 60 days after the emergency declaration expires. Specify BCPL may offer loans to ensure that the utility is able to maintain liquidity during the emergency period, and authorize BCPL to issue loans for amounts and conditions as may be agreed upon by a borrower. Further, specify that the Legislature determines the loans serve a public purpose. 

 

LEAVES OF ABSENCE AND HEALTH INSURANCE

Specify that, for the purposes of group health insurance coverage offered by the Group Insurance Board, an employee who returns from a leave of absence and who has not resumed active duty for at least 30 consecutive calendar days during the public health emergency declared on March 12, 2020, by Executive Order 72 is deemed to have ended or interrupted the leave of absence on March 12, 2020.  

 

EXEMPTION FROM CIVIL LIABILITY FOR MANUFACTURE OF MEDICAL SUPPLIES DURING PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY 

Exempt manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of emergency medical supplies that donate or sell their products in response to the public health emergency, as declared under federal law by either the President or federal Secretary of Health and Human Services, from civil liability associated with injury or death caused by those products. The manufacturer, distributor, or seller would be exempt from civil liability only if the product were sold or donated to a nonprofit organization or unit of government at a price that does not exceed the cost of production, defined to include only the cost of inputs, wages, operating the manufacturing facility, and transporting the product. Define emergency medical supplies as any medical equipment or supplies necessary to limit the spread of, or provide treatment for, a disease associated with the public health emergency, including life support devices, personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, and any other item determined to be necessary by the Secretary of the Department of Health Services. Specify that the exemption would not apply if the death or injury were caused by a willful act or omission.  

 

TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE PROVISIONS TO MEET CONDITIONS FOR ENHANCED FEDERAL MATCHING PERCENTAGE 

Authorize DHS to take certain actions, as described below, to satisfy criteria for qualifying for enhanced federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) available during an emergency period declared in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, as established by the federal Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). 

 

HOURS OF INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAMMING FOR NURSE AIDES 

Prohibit the Department of Health Services from requiring an instructional program for nurse aides in Wisconsin to exceed the federally required minimum total training hours or minimum hours of supervised practical training.   Currently, nurse aides in Wisconsin are required to complete a minimum of 120 total training hours, including 32 hours of supervised practical training. Federal law currently requires nurse aides to complete 75 total training hours, including 16 hours of supervised practical training.  

 

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY DASHBOARD 

Provide that, during the state public health emergency declared on March 12, 2020, by Executive Order 72 and during the current national public health emergency, the entity that the state contracts with to collect, analyze, and disseminate health care information of hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers under Chapter 153 of the statues must prepare and publish a public health emergency dashboard, using healthcare emergency preparedness program information collected by the state from acute care hospitals. 

 

SENIORCARE COVERAGE OF VACCINATIONS 

Expand the SeniorCare prescription drug assistance program to include coverage of vaccinations that are recommend for administration to adults by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory committee on immunization practices and approved for the administration to adults by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Require DHS to provide reimbursement under SeniorCare for the administration of vaccinations to health care providers, including pharmacies and pharmacists, provided that the enrollee has met the program's deductible requirements or is not required to pay a deductible. Require the Department to use the same method of reimbursement for the ingredient and dispensing fees as is used for vaccinations under the medical assistance program. Require the Department to devise and distribute a claim form for use by health care providers for vaccinations. Specify that SeniorCare will only pay claims for vaccination costs that are not paid by other insurance coverage or benefit plans. Authorize DHS to limit payment for vaccinations to claims that are submitted directly to the Department and specify that DHS may apply the same utilization and cost control procedures for vaccinations that apply under the medical assistance program. 

 

RENEWAL OF EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES CREDENTIALS 

Prohibit DHS from requiring an ambulance service provider, emergency medical services practitioner, or emergency medical responder that holds a license, training permit or certificate that has not been suspended or revoked, to renew that credential, or impose renewal requirements, such as continuing education, during the public health emergency declared on March 12, 2020, by Executive Order 72, and for the 60 days following the date that the state of emergency is terminated.

 

NO COST SHARING FOR COVID-19 TESTING 

Require any self-insured health plan offered by a local government or school district, any health insurance policy, and any state health plan that generally covers testing for infectious diseases to provide coverage of testing for COVID-19 without imposing any copayment or coinsurance on the individual covered under the policy or plan, for any such testing done prior to March 13, 2021.

 

PROHIBIT COVERAGE DISCRIMINATION BASED ON COVID-19 

Prohibit any insurer, pharmacy benefit manager, or self-insured health plan from using a current or past diagnosis, or suspected diagnosis, of COVID-19, as the basis for doing the following: (a) establishing rules, applicable to an individual or employer or other group, for eligibility for enrollment, continued eligibility to remain enrolled, or renewal of coverage; (b) canceling coverage during a contract term; (c) establishing rates for coverage; or (d) refusing to grant a grace period for the payment of premium, if a grace period for payment of premium would generally be granted under the plan. 

 

PRESCRIPTION DRUG LIMITS 

Prohibit any health insurance policy, state employee health plan, or self-insured health plan offered by a local government or school district, or a pharmacy benefit manager acting on behalf of a policy or plan from doing the following during the period covered by the state of emergency related to public health declared by the Governor on March 12, 2020, under Executive Order 72: (a) requiring prior authorization for early refills of a prescription drug or otherwise restrict the period of time in which a prescription drug may be refilled; or (b) imposing a limit on the quantity of prescription drugs that may be obtained if the quantity is no more than a 90-day supply. Specify that these restrictions do not apply to a prescription drug that is classified as a controlled substance by the Controlled Substances Board. 

 

SCHOOL AND SCHOOL DISTRICT ACCOUNTABILITY REPORTS 

Prohibit the Department of Public Instruction from publishing school and school district accountability reports in the 2020-21 school year.

 

PUPIL ASSESSMENTS 

Specify that current law requiring assessments to be administered annually to pupils attending school in a public school district, independent charter school, private choice school, or special needs scholarship program school would not apply in 2019-20. Current law requires pupils to be given annual reading test in the 3rd grade, as well as assessments adopted by the State Superintendent in the 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th grades.   Specify that pupil performance on assessments in the 2019-20 school year could not be considered for the evaluation of teachers and principals under the statewide educator effectiveness system. Under current law, the educator effectiveness system must be based in part upon measures of pupil performance, including performance on state assessments.

 

INTEREST AND PENALTIES DUE ON TAXES OWED DURING THE PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY 

Permit the Secretary of the Department of Revenue to waive interest and penalties for persons that owe, but fail to remit, general fund taxes, or taxes or fees that are deposited in the transportation fund, by the filing date if, in the Secretary's determination, that person failed to timely remit those taxes due to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak of 2020. Specify that the Secretary must make this determination on a case-by-case basis. Specify that this provision applies only to general fund taxes, or taxes and fees that are deposited in the transportation fund, with filing dates that fall within, and interest and penalties that accrue during, the public health emergency that was declared by the Governor on March 12, 2020, by Executive Order 72, including any extension of time authorized under a joint resolution by the Legislature. Estimate a minimal reduction in state tax revenues.

 

INCOME AND FRANCHISE TAX FILING EXTENSION 

President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak on March 13, 2020. Following this declaration, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced on March 21, 2020, that the deadline for filing federal income tax returns is extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. The IRS subsequently expanded that guidance on April 9, 2020, to provide that the extension generally applies to all taxpayers with a tax filing due date falling between April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020. In addition, taxpayers who make estimated income tax payments that would otherwise be due between April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020, can make such payments by July 15 without incurring any interest or penalties, regardless of amounts owed by a taxpayer. A taxpayer need not file any additional forms in order to qualify for this extended due date.

 

INTEREST AND PENALTIES ON 2020 PROPERTY TAXES 

For any property taxes payable in 2020 that are due after April 1, 2020, allow local governments, after making a general or case-by-case finding of hardship, to waive any interest charges and penalties for a late installment payment, provided that the full amount of the payment is received on or before October 1, 2020. For any property taxes payable in 2020 that are delinquent after October 1, 2020, interest charges and penalties would begin accruing as of October 1, 2020. Consider any payment received on or before October 1, 2020, or by an installment date after October 1, 2020, to be timely for the purposes of allowing taxpayers to submit a claim to appeal unlawful or excessive taxes.