MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Lawmakers in Wisconsin are proposing a bill to support healthcare workers in the state during the pandemic with extra protections.
The Healthcare Heroes Act provides benefits for healthcare workers like paid medical leave, hazard pay and coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment. If a person is uninsured, the bill would have the state cover that healthcare workers testing and treatment.
In a press conference about the bill today several healthcare workers spoke about not being covered or having sick time if they get the virus.
“Every frontline healthcare worker deserves to know that we can continue to support our families and pay our bills despite enduring serious affects from this pandemic. And as I talk to my coworkers at my job I know i'm not alone with these concerns,” said Victoria Gutierrez, a nurse at a Madison hospital.
It includes not just caregivers, but hospital and medical facility service and business staff too.
Like the virus in general, minority healthcare workers are often in more danger of catching coronavirus.
“At this point over 600 healthcare workers have lost their lives to COVID-19 in this country, a majority of them were people of color, this isn't just a fight for healthcare workers rights, it's also a fight for black lives,” said Ryann Streicher, a nurse in Madison.
The bill includes Medicaid expansion too. It is introduced by all Democratic lawmakers — Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa), Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point), and Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit).
There currently is no session scheduled for either the house or senate in Wisconsin. Leaders of both chambers have not said if they plan on holding a session to take up this or other bills proposed in the past couple of months.