The House and Senate have passed House Bill 2965: Concerning the state’s response to the novel coronavirus. The bill provides at least $100 million in funding for the state’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The bill gives broad authority to the state agencies to use the funding for response purposes, including language authorizing the Health Care Authority to determine payments to adequately resource skilled nursing facilities responding to any state of emergency declared by the governor including the 2019 novel coronavirus. The bill was amended in the Senate to clarify that an individual under quarantine or isolation, as directed by a public health official during the novel coronavirus outbreak, may access unemployment insurance benefits without meeting the usual “available to work” requirements. Individuals under work-related quarantine or isolation may be eligible for benefits through Labor and Industries.
WSHA is working with legislators to ensure the funding in the bill supports hospitals’ response capacity to care for people affected by COVID-19. Currently hospitals have about 400 patients statewide who can be discharged but lack an appropriate alternate site for placement. Hospital discharge of these patients to appropriate care is an important step in ensuring hospitals have capacity for health crises due to epidemics or disasters. (Andrew Busz, email@example.com)