Pa. Lawmakers can Help Families and Businesses Overcome COVID-19

March 25, 2020, Harrisburg, Pa. — Today, Commonwealth Foundation released a package of key policy solutions to help reduce the harm caused by COVID-19 and the response to it.

“Along with the COVID-19 pandemic’s public health impact, our state is facing its greatest economic crisis in over a decade,” explained Commonwealth Foundation Director of Policy Elizabeth Stelle. “Now that the Legislature is in session and able to televote, they can take an active, leading role in mitigating the pain Pennsylvania families and businesses are experiencing. We urge the Legislature to remove the mountain of unnecessary regulations that are slowing our health care system’s response, preventing workers from providing for their families, and deteriorating the state’s finances.”

The policy recommendations include:

  1. Bolstering our Health Care System
    1. Establish telemedicine for all insurance types. 
    2. Allow medical professionals licensed in other states to easily practice in Pennsylvania, ensuring our health systems can quickly adapt as need grows.
    3. Advance further regulatory changes to expand the scope of practice for medical professionals. 
       
  2. Providing Flexibility to Help Workers.
    1. Provide oversight and input on Gov. Wolf’s emergency actions. 
    2. Suspend occupational licensing requirements, which create barriers to employment.
    3. Permit small businesses to carry forward any losses by passing HB 1603 and SB 202. 
       
  3. Addressing Fiscal Challenges
    1. Reduce non-essential spending. 
    2. Prepare a stop-gap budget that funds core services and avoids a government shutdown.
    3. Move special funds (i.e., the “shadow budget”) online and prioritize all state spending. 
       
  4. Ensuring Students can Continue to Learn
    1. Provide enrollment flexibility for online learning. 
    2. Fund emergency flexible education accounts so families can purchase education supplies and services. 
    3. Expedite school district payments and ensure prompt redirect payments to charter schools where appropriate. 
    4. Let schools teach by clarifying that remote instruction does not violate the IDEA law.
       
  5. Things Lawmakers Should Avoid
    1. Do not impose costly mandates on small businesses. 
    2. Do not repeat mistakes from previous economic crises. 
    3. Do not provide narrow subsidies to select businesses and industries. 

For more information on each of these recommendations, read the full fact sheet here: https://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/policyblog/detail/policy-recommendations-to-fight-covid-19-in-pennsylvania#_Provide_Flexibility_to

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Michael Torres at 850-619-2737 or mbt@commonwealthfoundation.org to schedule an interview.
 

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