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Supports Governor’s Emergency Actions; Protects Marylanders from Economic Hardships That May Result from Pandemic
News Release, Office of Governor Larry Hogan
ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today signed HB1663/SB1080, the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020, which supports the governor’s ongoing actions to combat COVID-19 and protects Marylanders from certain economic hardships that may result from this pandemic.
The governor was joined by House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson.
Under Public Safety Article Section 14-107 of Maryland law, the governor has broad powers during a state of emergency to take actions that will help keep Marylanders safe. The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020 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 bill establishes a series of protections for individuals directly affected by COVID-19 or more broadly impacted by the state of emergency, including empowering 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
It also prohibits retailers from unfair price gouging for essential goods like food, fuel, medicine, medical supplies, and cleaning products, and affirms that such action is subject to the enforcement by the attorney general.
A list of ongoing state actions is available at governor.maryland.gov/coronavirus.
For health resources regarding COVID-19, including case counts and clinician guidance, Marylanders should visit coronavirus.maryland.gov.