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States Respond to COVID-19: Ark. Hospital Reimbursement, Planning for Concurrent Emergencies

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) appointed a 15-person steering committee to recommend methods for distributing federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to necessary sectors in the state.

Among several recommendations, the committee endorsed a state Department of Human Services request for $109.6 million to reimburse Arkansas hospitals for COVID-19 expenses. The committee also approved distribution of $5 million to reimburse state agencies for their purchases of personal protective equipment. Cindie Gillespie, state secretary of human services, said that the department worked closely with the Arkansas Hospital Association to develop distribution proposals for federal COVID-19 relief funds.

While the committee recommends distribution practices, Hutchinson ultimately will approve or deny the funding allocation. The state’s Legislative Council often signs off on additional budgetary proposals and likely will have influence over the allocations.

Responding to Concurrent Emergencies During COVID-19

On June 1, the National Governors Association (NGA) released a memorandum on planning for concurrent emergencies during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

As summer approaches, experts predict higher-than-normal hurricane counts, wild fires, and heat waves within the United States. In their statement, NGA provides actions governors can take to bolster emergency preparedness and an overview of planning considerations for simultaneous emergencies. The recommendations include:

  • prioritizing planning for natural emergencies;
  • preparing funding strategies for response and recovery;
  • helping individuals prepare for hazards and emergencies; and
  • ensuring operational agencies adjust responses to emergencies given the public health crisis.

Tax Holidays

The report notes that Florida‘s legislature created a tax holiday to raise money for emergency preparedness for COVID-19 and other potential natural disasters. Both Texas and Virginia established similar tax holidays.

Workforce

NGA also recommends states evaluate health care workforce burnout amid the pandemic and other potential emergencies. The group recommends states consider implementing policies to help personnel stay on the job, such as providing proper protective equipment, compensation, and liability protection. They also recommend states use the National Guard to support their workforce in dealing with COVID-19 and natural disasters.

We encourage all members to visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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