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Pou Leads COVID-19 Response Legislation to Address the Challenges of New Jerseyans

Trenton – In its first-ever remote voting session today, the Senate took up multiple pieces of legislation sponsored by the Legislative Latino Caucus Chair Senator Nellie Pou. The bills are aimed at addressing the challenges the state is facing brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The coronavirus crisis presents workers, business owners, immigrants and legislators new and constantly evolving challenges,” said Senator Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Today’s action displays the Legislature’s dedication to the people of New Jersey. In moments of fear and uncertainty, residents don’t need the added stress of wondering if their COVID-19 related medical needs and or their prescriptions will be covered by their insurance plans. Times of crisis demand assurances that only government can provide and I am grateful to my colleagues and the administration for all their work and collaboration as we navigate through this public health emergency.”

The fist bill, S.2344, sponsored by Senator Pou, would require Medicaid and health insurance coverage for certain refills of prescription drugs during a state of emergency.

The second bill sponsored by Senator Pou, A.3901/S.2334, would permit professional and occupational licensing boards to reactivate licensures for retired individuals during a state of emergency or public health emergency.

“We are all in this together and we need all hands on deck,” said Pou. “Expanding the state’s capacity to respond to this crisis by making it easier for folks to come return to the workforce is not only the smart thing to do, it’s the responsible action to take.”

A third bill, S.2330, sponsored by Senators Pou, Cryan and Oroho, the COVID -19 Financial Security for Consumers Act, was held at today’s session. While Senator Pou said “this is by no means a dead bill” she acknowledged the need for further revision to ensure its effectiveness in helping consumers.

“Without our usual committee process, the bill just isn’t ready yet,” said the Senator. “We don’t want to rush something through that will have negative unintended consequences. The bottom line though is the Senate is going to do everything it can to protect New Jersey consumers, particularly in times of crisis, and it’s my intent to have this legislation ready to go in the very near future.”

The legislation would address financial insecurity issues stemming from the pandemic by requiring insurance carriers to cover COVID-19 treatment expenses without cost sharing. It would also prohibit certain debt collection activities.