Utility Relief, Hospital Preparedness, Special Healthcare enrollment, and $5.3 Million in Meals for Arizona Seniors

Governor Ducey Announces $5.3 Million For Meals For Arizona Seniors

Governor Doug Ducey today announced that Arizona has received more than $5.3 million in grant funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help Arizona communities provide meals for older adults. The dollars will support both meal delivery programs and programs serving senior centers and are part of a relief package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020.

View this information in Spanish HERE.

“These dollars will help Arizona keep our seniors safe and healthy at a critical time,” said Governor Ducey. “I’m grateful to members of both parties who supported this legislation and to the Department of Health and Human Services for making these resources available.”

In total, Arizona will receive $5,356,670 for senior meal programs, with two-thirds of that supporting home meal delivery.

This morning, the Governor also made a request to the federal government to expand nutritional assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Governor Ducey yesterday issued an Executive Order delaying the enforcement of eviction action orders for renters impacted by COVID-19.

The Governor also announced yesterday the launch of the Arizona Together initiative to support Arizonans during the COVID-19 outbreak, connecting individuals and businesses to resources, raising money for community organizations and providing information on volunteer opportunities. A website, ArizonaTogether.org, serves as the centralized location for Arizonans to find help or provide support.


Governor Ducey Requests Special Health Care Enrollment Period

Governor Doug Ducey today made a request to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar to open a special enrollment period on the Federal Insurance Marketplace. If granted, the action would allow individuals who have recently lost a job or had their income reduced due to COVID-19 to access health care on the federal marketplace.

“At this time when health insurance is of critical importance and so many people are experiencing a loss of employment, opening a special enrollment period will cut unnecessary red tape and lift a paperwork burden off individuals who are already facing challenges from a sudden and significant change in circumstances,” Governor Ducey said in the letter. “Such a move would provide an important option to families in Arizona and across the country who are struggling right now.”

Governor Ducey took additional action earlier today to expand health care access for Arizonans, including issuing an Executive Order requiring health care insurance companies to expand telemedicine coverage for all services that would normally be covered for an in-person visit. This morning, the Governor also made a request to the federal government to expand nutritional assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

View a PDF of the letter to HHS HERE.


Governor Ducey Announces Electric Utility Relief Package

Governor Doug Ducey today announced a cooperative agreement with the state’s largest electric utilities to continue to provide reliable electricity to homes, hospitals, and businesses while making sure that Arizona residents facing financial difficulties will have choice, assistance, and reliable access to electricity.

Under the agreement, Arizona Public Service (APS), Salt River Project (SRP), Tucson Electric Power (TEP) and six electric cooperatives have all agreed to the following:

  • No customer will have power to their home shut off during the remainder of the crisis for inability to pay;

  • No penalties, late fees or interest will be assessed during this time.

  • The utility companies will work with their customers to provide flexible options for payment, as well as guidance and choice of rate and payment plans.

In addition, the utilities all agreed to the following innovative solutions:

  • Customer service representatives will work with customers desiring to switch plans during this time if they no longer feel that their current plan is the best option for them. No customer will be required to stay in a plan that they chose under different circumstances if another one would be better for them and is approved under current regulatory rate structures. This will ensure that people have the flexibility to make the best decision for them, their family or their business.

  • Customer service representatives are available for individualized service to the hospitals and health care providers during this time. While our healthcare system is being tested during this crisis, the utilities are committed to ensuring that their energy needs will be met.

  • The utilities have agreed to work with one another across the state during this emergency to provide resources and coverage for one another to ensure continued reliable service. Arizonans can rest assured that the electric utility crews will work cooperatively to maintain power reliability. Resources will be available for rural cooperatives should their crews need supplementing.

Governor Ducey met with electric utility representatives on Tuesday to discuss actions to protect customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m grateful to Arizona’s electricity providers for stepping up to protect customers during this unprecedented time,” said Governor Ducey. “Responding to COVID-19 and supporting Arizonans impacted will require a whole-of-state approach. This agreement includes important measures to make sure families, businesses and healthcare facilities continue to have access to reliable electricity throughout this public health emergency.”

“SRP appreciates Governor Ducey’s concern for the continued reliability of the electrical grid and his commitment to working with us to ensure our customers remain safe and connected to power and water,” said SRP CEO and General Manager Mike Hummel. “We are committed to working with our customers, the Governor, local nonprofits and community action agencies to ensure our assistance is available to those who need it most.”

“The employees of APS take pride in powering Arizona by providing the critical service of electricity to customers throughout the state,” said Jeff Guldner, Chairman and CEO of APS. “Our focus now, more than ever before, is on partnering across the industry and with the State of Arizona, to support the people counting on us through these challenging times.”

“We know many of our customers have been hit hard by this pandemic, and we want to do everything we can to help,” said David G. Hutchens, CEO of TEP, UniSource and their parent company, UNS Energy Corp. “We appreciate the leadership of Governor Ducey and all our public officials during this period of unprecedented and urgent need.”

“Because Arizona’s rural electric cooperatives are member-owned and member-driven, we understand the needs of our communities better than most,” said Dave Lock, CEO, Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association. “The current pandemic is a unique situation. Because of that, cooperatives have decided to temporarily waive disconnections so our communities can better withstand this crisis. After all, we’re all in this together.”

Background:

  • The utilities have recently committed over $3 million to community support and customer assistance programs to support residential customers and small businesses facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

  • The Governor and utilities have advocated for additional federal funds in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to assist Arizona utility customers unable to pay their bills. The federal COVID-19 relief legislation passed by the U.S. Senate last night includes over $11 million in additional bill assistance funds for Arizona.

  • On March 22nd Governor Ducey announced the launch of a new statewide COVID-19 Hotline administered by 2-1-1 Arizona and the Crisis Response Network. Through the Hotline Arizonans can easily reach important information and stay healthy. The service is offered in English and Spanish and is available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm each day of the week.

More information on how to receive utility assistance is available on ArizonaTogether.org.


Governor Ducey Issues Executive Order To Ensure Hospital Preparedness

Governor Doug Ducey today issued an Executive Order ensuring Arizona hospitals increase capacity to prepare for a potential influx of patients due to COVID-19. The order requires hospitals to increase the amount of hospital bed capacity in the state, take steps to optimize staffing levels and maximize critical resources.

“Arizona is working day and night to ensure our hospitals are prepared while implementing measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible,” said Governor Ducey. “Building additional capacity now, ahead of any increased demand is the responsible thing to do. I’m grateful to all the doctors, nurses, EMTs and administrative staff who are working around the clock to serve Arizonans. We’re going to continue working 24/7 to make sure they have the resources and medical supplies needed to do their jobs.”

“As public health officials, we have a responsibility to prepare for the worst-case scenario to plan for a pandemic,” said Dr. Cara Christ, Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “In Arizona, we are fortunate to have time to prepare, and we have a responsibility to bring additional hospital beds online, find needed supplies and identify critical equipment, including ventilators. We’re focused on working to make sure hospitals across the state build their capacity.”

Today’s Executive Order requires hospitals to activate their facility emergency plans that were developed with guidance and funding from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) in anticipation of a public health emergency. The order also requires hospitals to:

  • Implement processes to re-route non-critical patients to other providers;

  • Institute plans to optimize staffing levels;

  • Increase bed capacity by 50 percent by April 24, with half of that increase implemented by April 10.

  • Report to ADHS the number of current licensed medical-surgical beds, ICU beds and the amount of increases required under this order.

In addition, the order:

  • Requires pediatric hospitals to accept patients up to 21 years of age.

  • Requires Medicaid insurance plans to cover services provided through the expanded capacity and mandates insurers reimburse hospitals provided at rates equal to what would be provided without the expanded capacity.

Today’s order follows a series of steps Arizona has implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect public health, build healthcare capacity, and provide relief to families, businesses and individuals.Yesterday, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order requiring health care insurance companies to expand telemedicine coverage for all services that would normally be covered for an in-person visit,  ensuring that Arizonans who may be sick, under quarantine, or in high-risk populations, can access care from their homes.

For a full list of actions, visit azgovernor.gov.

View the Executive Order HERE.

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