North Carolina General Assembly Response to COVID-19: May 2020

| May 1, 2020

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Written by Michelle Ries

 

As of May 1, 2020, the North Carolina General Assembly has developed several pieces of legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The chart below outlines many of the provisions in pending legislation, with a focus on those directly related to health and human services. The General Assembly is expected to vote on this legislation on May 2. Additional information on included provisions will be compiled and published by the NCIOM following passage of legislation.

 

Funding includes $1.7 billion in House Bill 1043, which will cover $110 million for COVID-related research divided for several state universities, and $125 million for hospitals who have been financially harmed by suspension of elective procedures and investments in pandemic preparations.

 

Senate Bill 704 includes more than $1.3 billion, including $61 million for grants for rural and underserved communities impacted by the pandemic.

 

Please note: the chart is not a comprehensive listing of all provisions in pending legislation. For additional information, please visit the UNC School of Government Legislative Reporting Service website: https://lrs.sog.unc.edu/

 

Bill Name
Status (5/1/2020)
What’s in the Bill?
House Bill 1037: COVID-19 Health Care Working Group Policy Rec.  

Re-ref to Com on

Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

  • Affirmations of Actions taken in response to COVID-19 (i.e., state of emergency, etc.) by DHHS and Governor
  • State plan for strategic state stockpile of personal protective equipment
  • Dental board flexibility during disasters and emergencies
  • Authorization for dentists to administer COVID-19 tests
  • Authorization process for immunizing pharmacists to administer COVID-19 immunizations/vaccinations
  • Prescription identification requirements
  • Temp. flexibility for quality improvement plans
  • Pandemic health care workforce study
  • Health care liability protection for emergency or disaster treatment
  • Extension of time for establishing connectivity to the state’s Health Information Exchange, NC HealthConnex
  • Temporary waiver of three-year fingerprinting requirement/child care providers
  • Provide Medicaid coverage for COVID-19 testing to uninsured individuals
  • Temporary Medicaid coverage for the prevention, testing, and treatment of COVID-19
  • Support receipt of enhanced federal Medicaid funding
  • Disabled Adult Child passalong eligibility/Medicaid
  • Modification of facility inspections and training to address infection control measures for COVID-19
  • Allow temp. waiver of 72 hour pre-service training requirement/child welfare staff
  • Increased access to health care through telehealth:
    • Expanded use of telehealth to conduct first and second involuntary commitment exams
    • Health benefit plan coverage of telehealth
    • Increased access to telehealth under Medicare
House Bill 1043: Pandemic Response Act  

In Senate; referred to Com on Appropriations/Base Budget

 

  • Incorporates content of HB 1039 (Covid-19 Response Act: Economic Support)
  • Incorporates content of HB 1034 (An Act to Provide Funds for Small Business Loan Assistance): Combines small business emergency loan program provisions and appropriations provisions; Appropriates $75 million in nonrecurring funds to provide funds to Golden LEAF, to provide grants for making emergency loans to assist small businesses experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. Lenders must prioritize loans for business with fewer than 100 employees.
  • Incorporates content of HB 1035 (An Act to Provide Relief to Elementary and Secondary School Students, Postsecondary School Students, School Personnel, and Educational Entities of the State to Accommodate Extraordinary Circumstances Due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 [COVID-19], as Recommended by the Education Working Group of the House Select Committee on COVID-19)
  • Incorporates content of HB 1038 (An Act Making Omnibus Appropriations of Federal Funds for COVID-19 Response and Relief Efforts in North Carolina, as Recommended by the House Select Committee on COVID-19):
    • Requires the State Controller to establish a Coronavirus Relief Reserve (Reserve) in the General Fund to maintain federal funds received from the Coronavirus Relief Fund created under the CARES Act. Requires the transfer of funds to the Coronavirus Relief Fund established in this act only as needed to meet the appropriations in this act and only upon request of the Director of the Budget.
    • Establishes the Coronavirus Relief Fund (Fund) to provide relief and assistance from the effects of COVID-19
    • Directs the State Controller to transfer $1,635,567,029 to the Fund from the Reserve for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Appropriates $1,635,567,029 in nonrecurring funds to OSBM for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Specifies that the funds do not revert and remain available until December 30, 2020.
  • Allocates funds for services including:
    • Department of Public Instruction: school nutrition, internet connectivity, purchase of devices for students and personnel, purchase of curricula, cybersecurity, school health support personnel, supplemental summer learning, nondigital remote instruction for students with limited connectivity, services for the School for the Blind, School for the Deaf
    • Community Colleges System: enhanced online learning capacity, faculty and staff support, facility sanitation
    • UNC Board of Governors: online expenses, facility sanitation, employee assistance, private post-secondary institutions’ student assistance
    • OSBM to establish COVID-19 Response Research Fund: allocations to NC Policy Collaboratory for the Duke University Human Vaccine Institute, the Gillings School of Global Public Health of UNC-Chapel Hill, the Brody School of Medicine of ECU, and the Wake Forest School of Medicine, and for Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine for COVID-19 developments
    • Department of Health and Human Services: support public health response efforts, State Laboratory of Public Health, local health departments, rural health providers; support behavioral health and crisis services; support additional cost to Medicaid including provider support, COVID-19 testing and treatment, and increased enrollment; testing, contact tracing, trends analysis; protective services and child care; foster care assistance; facilities licensed to accept State-County Special Assistance; support for rural and underserved communities; grants to member of NC Association of Free and Charitable Clinics; NC MedAssist for prescription costs for indigent or uninsured;
    • Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Public Safety: purchase of personal protective equipment and other supplies
    • Directed grant to NC Healthcare Foundation for grants to rural hospitals
    • Establish COVID-19 General Hospitals Relief Fund
    • Department of Transportation
    • OSBM: Continuity of operations across state government, counties eligible for federal CARES funding, state agencies for loss of anticipated receipts
  • Directs OSBM to establish temporary NC Pandemic Recovery Office to oversee and coordinate funds; terminates in 12 months
  • Requires the Department of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services (DMH/DD/SAS) to use the $400,000 allocated to it to purchase units of opioid antagonist and distribute these opioid antagonist units for free to opioid treatment programs
  • Additional health-related provisions include:
    • Emergency video notarization
    • Emergency video witnessing
    • Masks and hoods for the protection of health: adds to instances in which individuals can wear a mask without violating prohibitions on masks
    • Waive requirement that health care power of attorney and advance directives be executed in presence of 2 qualified witnesses
    • Adult guardianship service and hearings
    • Expands definition of telemedicine as used for involuntary commitment exams
    • Allows for release of communicable disease information to local enforcement officials
    • Expand who may be appointed medical examiner
    • Amends requirements for medical examiner to release remains
    • Interim determinations and interim certifications for certain disability benefits
  • Authorizes State Treasurer to allow State Health Plan members to defer premiums or debt payments

 

 

1046: COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave  

Referred to the House Committee on Finance

  • Mandates employers to provide at least two weeks of COVID-19 paid sick leave to each full-time employee and the equivalent of a typical two-week period for part-time employees working for the employer for any of following six reasons
    • The employee is subject to federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order
    • The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
    • The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis
    • The employee is caring for an individual subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
    • The employee is caring for a son or daughter of the employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed or a child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions
    • The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by US DHHS in consultation with the US Secretary of Treasury and US Secretary of Labor
  • Additional provisions of the bill include
    • Requires employers to pay employees for earned sick leave at the same rate of pay with the same benefits as the employee normally earns
    • Requires COVID-19 paid sick time to be paid on the same schedule and in the same paycheck as regular wages. Prohibits employers from delaying COVID-19 sick time compensation
    • Prohibits employers from requiring employees to use other paid leave prior to using COVID-19 paid sick leave or requiring employees to find a replacement to cover his or her scheduled work hours
    • Explicitly prohibits retaliation by an employer against an employee for taking COVID-19 sick leave, as specified
    • Deems violation of the act a failure to meet the wage payment requirements of Article 2A of GS Chapter 95, the NC Wage and Hour Act
    • Requires employers to provide written notice to employees of the rights and remedies provided under the act
    • Details construction of the act relating to collective bargaining rights and employer policy

 

S704: COVID-19 Recovery Act  

Sent to House, passed 1st reading, referred to House Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House

  • Specifies funding amounts to be allocated to services, included establishment of Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide relief and assistance; OBSM to administer
  • Recipients of funding will include: Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the NC Healthcare Foundation, the NC Senior Living Association, and the NC Medical Society for supplies and equipment; DHHS, Division of Social Services (DSS), for the six food banks in North Carolina; DHHS, Division of Social Services, for facilities licensed to accept State-County Special Assistance for resident services support; DHHS, DSS, for foster care services; DHHS, DSS, for LINKS program funding; the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for animal depopulation and disposal; OSBM for the NC Association of Free and Charitable Clinics for health services costs; OSBM for the NC Community Health Centers Association for health services costs; the Community Colleges System Office to support online learning capacity; the UNC Board of Governors for online learning, facility sanitation, and student and employee assistance; the UNC Board of Governors for the State Education Assistance Authority for online learning and student assistance; OSBM for the General Assembly for Wake Forest University Health Services for research data; OSBM for Wake Forest University Health Services to expand its COVID-19 study; OSBM for Duke University Human Vaccine Institute for COVID-19 vaccine development; Department of Commerce to contract with a corporation for marketing COVID-19 concepts, strategies, and materials; OSBM for continuity of operations needs across state government; OSBM for the Old North State Medical Society Inc. to target rural areas and African American communities with outreach, health education, and testing; Department of Information Technology to purchase mobile Wi-Fi routers for development tier one and two areas; UNC-Chapel Hill for the NC Policy Collaboratory to coordinate entities’ COVID-19 response and development; Department of Public Instruction for summer learning programs (DPI); DPI for school nutrition services; Department of Information Technology for the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology Fund for supplemental funding for grantee projects that will increase broadband access or provision; and DHHS for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and trend-tracking expansion.
  • Allocates funding for Golden LEAF for emergency loans for small businesses
  • Additional health-related provisions include:
    • Changes to requirements of Quality Improvement Plans
    • Authority to defer state health plan premiums
    • Provide Medicaid coverage for COVID-19 testing
    • Duration of temporary Medicaid provider rate increases
    • Permit telehealth to conduct second involuntary commitment exams
    • Health care liability protection for emergency of disaster treatment
    • Use of FY 2019-20 child care and development fund block grant to address immediate child care needs
    • Emergency video notarization
    • Emergency video witnessing
    • Waive the witness requirement for health care power of attorney  and advance directives
    • Emergency unemployment benefits and tax credit
    • Changes to unemployment insurance laws
    • Establishment of temporary pandemic recovery office charged with oversight and coordination of funds
    • Funds for testing, contact tracing, and trends tracking and analysis
    • Provides civil immunity to essential businesses that provide goods or services in the state for any injuries or death alleged to have been caused as a result of a customer or employee contracting COVID-19 while doing business with or while being employed by the essential business

 

Sources: UNC School of Government Legislative Reporting Service website: https://lrs.sog.unc.edu/

NC General Assembly website: www.ncleg.net