The pandemic response continues to be foremost on the minds and actions of our state policymakers.
- State of Emergency and Public Health Emergency extended for 60 days – Governor Tony Evers issued and signed Executive Order #104 on January 19, 2021. This enables all state agencies to continue with their ongoing response efforts.
- Vaccine Distribution – Governor Evers stated that “We’re going to keep getting shots in arms as quickly as possible and as soon we have vaccines available.” The plan for vaccine distribution is set by the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC). Last Friday (January 22), SDMAC reported:
- Roughly 40% of the Phase 1a, which includes frontline health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities, had been completed;
- Police, Fire and Non-EMS First Responders began receiving vaccinations on January 18;
- Residents ages 65 and over began receiving vaccinations on January 25;
- On March 1, additional groups are being prioritized due to an increased risk of exposure or vulnerability to COVID-19. The groups in priority order include education and childcare, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline health care essential personnel, and facility staff and residents in congregate living settings.
- Legislative COVID Relief Package – The State Legislature is back in session. Assembly Bill 1 is the COVID relief package. Low bill numbers are synonymous with priority issues, so its #1 status is telling. Generally, the bill will authorize state government actions to address the COVID-19 pandemic, extend the time limit for emergency rule procedures, and grant rule-making authority. The Senate is scheduled to vote on this today (January 28th) and we will provide highlights in the February Update.
On a side note, Andrea Palm, secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), was selected by President Joe Biden as his nominee for deputy secretary of Health and Human Services. Her last day at Wisconsin DHS was January 20. No stranger to the federal government, Ms. Palm held roles under President Barack Obama’s administration, including senior counselor to the HHS secretary, chief of staff for HHS, and senior adviser at the White House Domestic Policy Council.
For more information on State of Wisconsin advocacy, legislative, policy and regulatory issues of impact to UnityPoint Health, please contact Cathy Simmons, executive director of government and external affairs for UnityPoint Health.