Free-market economist sees red tape that can be cut for COVID-19 relief
Posted Mar 26, 2020 11:45 AM
Kan. — An economist with the Sandlian Center for Entrepreneurial Government at the Kansas Policy Institute has listed several actions that Kansas could choose to take to cut more government red tape in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.
"Our goal was that Kansas should work to increase the supply of health care providers as much as humanly possible," said economist Michael Austin. "That includes allowing retired physicians to come back. It allows giving temporary licenses to nurses that may have out of state licenses. Here's something that may seem drastic, but I would argue is necessary, which would be letting final year Kansas medical students practice in Kansas early. That was tried in Italy and it brought about 10,000 physicians into the workforce to battle the virus spread."
Cutting the red tape for hospitals in also important.
"It's important that hospitals that are, let's say, not stressed, with COVID-19 cases, they should be allowed to assist the hospitals that are stressed," Austin said. "That means allowing any hospital to set up or operate a mobile facility regardless of where that facility is located within the state. Another goal is to take some of the non-coronavirus burden off of our Kansas nurses. That means allowing non-nursing staff such as an activity coordinator or a social worker or even just a volunteer to help feed or transport patients, as long as it's consistent with the patient's care plan."
There is one step Governor Kelly has taken already that Austin is happy with, which is pushing the tax deadline back to July 15th.
"Likely some other important action is to make sure we have as many truckers as possible transporting goods and medical supplies across the state," Austin said. "If a trucker has a CDL driver's license that was expired in the last two months, how about we just let them come back on the road and we'll worry about re-registering them or renewing their license at some other time."
Kelly has done something similar already with regard to regular driver's licenses and car tags extending the length of time to renew until after her emergency executive order has expired.
The new coronavirus is spreading quickly around the world, including across Kansas, and setting off a range of responses.
Kansas News Service is boiling down key developments in the state and
updating the status regularly here. To read this information in Spanish,
go here. This list was last updated at 4:10 p.m. April 7.
CASES AND DEATHS
900 cases (see map for counties) and 223 hospitalizations
27 deaths (the state is no longer disclosing which counties are seeing deaths)
NOTE: These figures only
include cases confirmed with lab tests and do not represent the real,
unknown total. Community transmission is occurring in parts of Kansas.
View additional charts showing the disease’s spread over time and other
Gov. Laura Kelly is instituting a statewide stay-at-home order as of
12:01 a.m. March 30. It will last until at least April 19. Stay-at-home
orders allow people to take care of essential activities (such as
grocery shopping or going to work) as well as exercise outside, but
otherwise keep to themselves.
The state’s stay-at-home order
supersedes at least 13 county-by-county orders. Should the state’s order
lift before a county’s is through, the county can choose to keep its
own in effect.
SHOULD I SELF-QUARANTINE?
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is now mandating home
quarantine for 14 days if you've traveled to the places listed below.
If you come down with symptoms (such as a fever of 100.4 degrees or
higher, coughing or shortness of breath) during those 14 days, contact
your health care provider and explain your potential COVID-19
Connecticut on or after April 6.
Louisiana or anywhere in Colorado on or after March 27.
States with known widespread community transmission (California, Florida, New York and Washington) on or after March 15.
Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.
Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado (if your visit was March 8th or later).
ships or river cruises on or after March 15. Anyone previously told to
quarantine because of their cruise ship travel should also finish out
International destinations on or after March
15. Anyone previously told to quarantine because of their international
travel should also finish out their quarantine.
doctors recommend patients with COVID-19 symptoms stay home even if they
test negative for the disease, because of concerns that current testing
approaches may be producing a significant number of false negatives.
hospitals across the state now offer drive-through testing, but
patients must get doctor approval in advance or else will be turned
away. Many Kansans can’t be tested unless they’re sick enough to be
hospitalized, and results may take up to a week.
testing supplies remain limited and private labs helping many clinics
and hospitals have large backlogs of samples. Hospitals trying to buy
equipment for in-house testing say vendors are backlogged, too. The
state will soon have several portable machines that can conduct 5- to
15-minute tests, and plans to lend them out to facilities most in need.
Some Kansas hospitals have succeeded
in getting the testing materials and can give patients their results
within a day. The state health department lab in Topeka can handle
several hundred samples per day — a fraction of the demand.
Under a new federal law, you should not have to pay for your coronavirus test, regardless of insurance status (but patients could still see related bills).
Separately, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s largest
private insurer, says some patients won’t have to pay for coronavirus
HOW ARE UNIVERSITIES RESPONDING?
and private universities and community colleges in the state will
finish this semester via online classes. Spring sports have been
canceled. Most staff travel has been suspended. Graduations at KU,
K-State and Wichita State are postponed or rescheduled.
University of Kansas and Wichita State also plan to hold summer classes
online. KU and K-State announced hiring freezes in early April.
HOW ABOUT K-12 SCHOOLS?
In mid-March, Kansas became the first state in the U.S. to shut down school buildings for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. A state task force then issued guidance for distance learning, for which students aren’t expected to spend more than a few hours a day.
Some districts that make high schoolers earn more credits than required by the state will graduate them this year based on the state’s lower bar.
Districts across the state are still providing free meals to eligible children, but some have stopped because of concerns about the coronavirus spreading at meal pickup sites.
WHAT IN DAY-TO-DAY LIFE IS AFFECTED?
Church gatherings and funerals:
Effective April 8, the governor has prohibited services of more than 10
people. That doesn’t count people performing the rituals or funeral
workers, but they must stay six feet apart from each other.
State tax deadline: Extended until July 15, in line with a delay for filing federal tax forms.
Evictions: Business and residential evictions are banned until May 1 if a tenant is unable to pay because of the coronavirus.
Mortgage foreclosures: Foreclosures are banned until May 1.
Small businesses: May be eligible for emergency federal loans. Find information here.
Hospitality businesses: Kansas created an emergency loan program, which quickly ran out of funds, but businesses can still apply to help the state assess the need for more assistance.
which serves 950,000 customers in Kansas, will not disconnect
residential or business services for an unspecified amount of time.
Gatherings: Restricted to fewer than 10 people throughout the state.
State of emergency: Kansas’
declaration is good through May (and can be extended). It gives the
government more power to marshal resources and Kelly the ability to make
certain decisions when lawmakers aren’t in session.
State workers: Access
to the Statehouse is limited to official business only through April
19. Most state workers are doing their jobs remotely.
Prisons and jails: The
Kansas Department of Corrections ended visitation at all state
facilities, and will “re-evaluate on an ongoing basis.” It urges
families to talk to inmates through email, phone calls and video visits.
County jails largely have ended visitations as well.
HOW BAD IS THE VIRUS?
usually causes mild to moderate symptoms, like a fever or cough. Most
people with mild symptoms recover in two weeks. More severe cases, found
in older adults and people with health issues, can have up to six
weeks’ recovery time or can lead to death.