Ducey outlines expanded assistance to Arizona amid COVID-19 pandemic

Mar 25, 2020, 6:30 PM | Updated: 9:29 pm
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey announced a variety of actions on Wednesday aimed at alleviating the impact of coronavirus on Arizona.

The same day positive coronavirus tests results in Arizona surpassed 400, Ducey announced the new measures online which focus on changes to food assistance programs, expanding telemedicine coverage, providing meals to senior citizens and requesting Arizonans have an open window by which they may enroll into federally provided health insurance.

The changes to federal food assistance programs — if approved by the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services — would increase the speed at which applicants are approved, expand access to nutritious foods via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and enable Arizonans to utilize their benefits for hot meals, according to a press release.

Ducey also signed an executive order Wednesday requiring all health care insurance companies to provide patients access to telemedicine services, allowing them to receive care that would otherwise be conducted during in-person visits.

“This action will help people to continue social distancing,” Ducey said during a press conference.

“This telemedicine is the equivalent of using the camera on your phone to talk to a doctor to get what you need.”

Arizona is also receiving federal resources from the Department of Health and Human Services in the form of grant funding totaling $5.3 million, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

These funds will provide meal delivery for senior citizens in need along with residents of elderly care facilities.

“These dollars will help Arizona keep our seniors safe and healthy at a critical time,” Ducey said.

Finally, Ducey submitted a request on Wednesday to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar asking that Arizonans suffering financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic be permitted a special enrollment period to access federally provided health insurance.

“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,” Ducey wrote to Azar.

“Such a move would provide an important option to families in Arizona and across the country who are struggling right now.”

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Ducey outlines expanded assistance to Arizona amid COVID-19 pandemic