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Hogan signs COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Act to protect workers, consumers

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Posted at 9:24 AM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 09:26:42-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WMAR) — Governor Hogan on Thursday signed the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Act of 2020.

The bill aims to protect Maryland workers and consumers from certain economic hardships caused by the pandemic.

  • Prohibit cost-sharing by an 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 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

Retailers are also prohibited from unfair price gouging of 10 percent or more for essentials like food, fuel, medicine, medical supplies, and cleaning products.

On Thursday the Governor also announced that Maryland has received official designation from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which provides low-interest federal disaster loans for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans will help with financial strain and allow businesses to pay bills, payroll, and accounts payable, with long-term payments stretching up to 30 years.