All of us, from the President of the United States to everyday citizens, have a job to do to combat the virus, COVID-19. We are not going to contain this overnight and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But we’re all in this together. This virus doesn’t care who you love, where you live, or what you do for work. In the past week, we’ve seen it spread exponentially across the United States and around the world.
We should all thank our state employees, especially those at the Department of Health and Human Services, and our medical professionals, who are on the front lines of this fight to keep Granite Staters healthy. Our federal delegation worked with members of both parties to secure $5 million in federal funds to help offset costs associated with the COVID-19 response. Commissioner Nicolopoulos announced an order to prohibit state-regulated insurance plans from charging out-of-pocket costs for all COVID-19 testing, which is a critical step to ensure that cost is not a deterrent for individuals seeking the treatment they need. We have asked the Department of Health and Human Services for any specific requests they may have for the Legislature to better enable them to do their jobs.
The most important step we can take is to make smart decisions to stay healthy and prevent the spread of the virus. But, Granite Staters need to know they can keep themselves healthy without fear of losing their job or taking on debt. That’s why, on Thursday, the Senate announced our plans to introduce legislation to allow Granite Staters who are quarantined to receive unemployment insurance so those living paycheck to paycheck can pay their bills even if they can’t go to work. The legislation also included job protections for Granite Staters who are quarantined to ensure you can’t lose your job if you need to stay home. We cannot penalize people who do the right thing to stay healthy. We also require the Department of Health and Human Services to request a waiver from the federal government to cover the costs of testing and treatment for uninsured Granite Staters.
At the local level, our public health departments, first responders, and local officials are setting their preparedness plans in motion. This virus is going to test our ability to work together, communicate effectively, and look out for one another. As schools close and our workforce struggles with child care, we’ll need to look out for one another more than ever. And, yes, we need to hold each other accountable, just like any successful team.
Our most vulnerable populations, our grandparents and people of all ages with underlying health conditions, will need our help and need those who are potentially infected to make smart decisions and not put others at risk. Our prisoners, our nursing home residents, and Granite Staters in the developmental disability community who rely upon a healthy workforce will need special attention.
It’s no secret that Governor Sununu and I don’t agree on much, but I’m glad there is agreement on many of these concepts and I look forward to working together. We are all on the same team on this one. There will be a time and a place for healthy debate and discussion, but today and in the weeks and months to come those of us in the legislature will continue to do our job helping to take this virus on.
We’re all in this together. We all have a role to play. And in order to move New Hampshire forward and through this, we cannot afford to leave anyone behind.
P.S. For more information about COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control or New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services’ websites. New Hampshire has activated it’s 24/7 hotline, Granite Staters with questions or concerns are encouraged to call 2-1-1.