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Lawmakers introduce ‘Healthcare Heroes Act’ to protect health workers during COVID-19

MADISON (WKOW) -- Lawmakers introduced new legislation Monday to help protect healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

State Representative Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa), Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee), and State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point) introduced the “Healthcare Heroes Act”.

The bill provides benefits for healthcare workers, including hazard pay, paid medical leave, state-funded COVID-19 testing and treatment for those uninsured, and insurance coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment.  The bill also accepts the Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Vining released the following statement regarding the bill introduction:

“In the United States, over 80,000 healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19 and almost 500 have died from the virus. In Wisconsin, 10% of COVID-19 cases are healthcare workers, which is over 2,300 people. From hospitals and nursing homes to homecare agencies and first responder roles, frontline healthcare workers risk their own health and lives and that of their families. They have been performing vital jobs for patients and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As policy-makers we owe it to the public, public health, and those frontline healthcare workers to provide what they need. We have heard directly from healthcare heroes about the circumstances confronting them — now it is up to us to act on their needs and with the urgency the situation demands. This proposal comes from these workers telling us that they deserve this. We as legislators hear this, and are enacting it. Healthcare heroes have called on us to champion measures such as fully-paid sick time for healthcare workers, hazard pay, and full healthcare coverage. 

“Frontline healthcare workers will continue performing their vital roles, because it is not simply what they do, but who they are. The Wisconsin legislature needs to respond with policies to enable these heroes to serve in this unprecedented public health crisis. Wisconsin healthcare heroes are counting on us to act. Elected officials derive power from the consent of the governed, and the governed is telling us that this is what they need and this is what they deserve, so let’s get this done.”

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