State Workforce Strategies

States are addressing the workforce challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are links describing their efforts.

(09/14/20) Medicaid Emergency Authority Tracker: Approved State Actions to Address COVID-19
An aggregate, frequently updated page issue brief covering the changes in Medicaid Emergency actions approved by states in response to COVID-19.

(09/09/20) Medicaid Managed Care Rates and Flexibilities: State Options to Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic
This issue brief released from the Kaiser Family Foundation describes many of the flexibilities and other changes states have implemented to their Medicaid programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reimbursement changes seeking to increase access and coverage for COVID-19 related visits are common themes.

(08/30/20) Hawaii’s Hospitals are in Urgent Need of Nurses to Tackle a Surge in COVID-19 Cases
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are on the rise in Hawaii and nurses are in short supply, leading to concerns about a problem that continues to worsen. Many of the employee representative organizations within Hawaii are collaborating to bring more nurses and other health care workers to Hawaii to help deal with the surge.

(08/28/20) ADA Supports Bill Addressing Workforce Shortages, Disparities
This press release from the American Dental Association praises a bipartisan bill introduced to the Senate with the aim of investing in the National Health Service Corps and National Disaster Medical System in an effort to improve surge capacity and reduce existing workforce shortages.

(07/27/20) Rapid Testing Aid Coming to Florida Nursing Homes, but Concerns Remain
A report on the implementation of rapid testing aid to nursing homes in Florida. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has announced plans to send testing machines to every skilled nursing facility in the country.

(07/24/20) Citing ‘Overwhelming’ Spread, Pa. Moves to Add Staff, App to Trace the Coronavirus
An article covering the efforts Pennsylvania is making to address further spread of COVID-19. The state is spending $27 million to boost the contact tracing workforce as well as implement an app that will help inform individuals if they have been in contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.

(07/20/20) State Announces Actions to Expand Access to Mental Health Services
An article discussing a new plan announced by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to expand access to mental health services within the state. Some of the strategies to be used include granting temporary licensure to recent masters and doctoral graduates in social work and counseling, granting expanded scope of practice to advanced practical nurses, and granting extension to permits for psychologists.

(07/16/20) Revisiting The Role Of Law And Politics In Pandemic Response At NYC Health + Hospitals
A blog post published in Health Affairs discussing how the practices of the state of New York and New York City impacted the largest public health system in the United States, New York City Health + Hospitals, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Oversight, executive orders, and changes to scope of practice all worked to enhance and expand the ability of the health workforce to address the pandemic and save lives.

(07/07/20) Governor Lamont Provides Update on Connecticut’s Coronavirus Response Efforts
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has announced a review of long-term care facilities in his recent coronavirus response update. This review will identify what issues have led to high rates of infection and mortality in nursing homes and what best practices are to protect the patients and enable the most safe and effective treatment from health care providers.

(07/07/20) Gov. Ron DeSantis Reiterates Commitment to Curbing the Spread of COVID-19 in Long Term Care Facilities
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced the creation of a care center in Miami, Florida, that will be dedicated to treating exclusively COVID-19 infected individuals from long-term care facilities. This will allow dedicated and committed bed space for COVID-19 treatment, and protect the health workforce and their patients in non-COVID-19 focused nursing homes.

(07/07/20) Distrust, Underfunding Hinders COVID-19 Contact Tracing
This article discusses many of the problems with contact tracing efforts across the United States. Low engagement, distrust of contact tracers, and lack of staffing are all contributing to response rates well below the 75% recommended by public health experts.

(07/06/20) Factors Associated with Nursing Home Infections and Fatalities in New York State During the COVID-19 Global Health Crisis
The New York State Department of Health released a report analyzing COVID-19 infections in nursing homes and the characteristics of the infection and fatalities. The report gives details on the precautions and strategies used to minimize risk of workforce infection and evaluates how policies of nursing homes may impact the spread of the disease.

(07/02/20) 25M Long-Term Care Plan Expanding Home-Based Options Introduced by Raimondo, in Light of COVID-19
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has released a plan to spend $25 million on expansion of home health care options for those in Rhode Island. This funding will help nursing facilities with infection control, as well as targeted investments in home-based workforce programs.

(07/02/20) Oregon Says it Has 600 Health Workers Ready to Track Coronavirus. Many Have Other Jobs
The state of Oregon has prepared a workforce of 600 contact tracers to address the COVID-19 pandemic, as cases in Oregon are on the rise in some counties. This workforce includes a majority of workers who are already working other positions, and there are concerns about the regional distribution of these workers.

(07/01/20) Arizona Tells Pence it Needs Additional 500 Health Care Workers as COVID-19 Cases Soar
The Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, has told United States Vice President Mike Pence that Arizona needs additional health care workers to meet the surge in COVID-19 cases. Pence leads the White House Coronavirus Taskforce.

(06/29/20) Public Health Emergency Being Renewed by HHS
The spokesman for the United States Department of Health and Human Services has announced the department will be extending the Public Health Emergency for 90 days beyond the current ending date of July 25. This extension includes a number of provisions to increase reimbursement for treating COVID patients as well as lifting restrictions on telehealth regulations.

(06/29/20) Tennessee Governor Extends State of Emergency Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
The Governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, has extended the State of Emergency in Tennessee as a result of recent rises in positive cases of COVID-19. This executive order contains many health workforce provisions, including regulations on facilities and extensions of licensing and registration for providing care through the end of August.

(06/22/20) State Efforts to Expand Medicaid Coverage & Access to Telehealth in Response to COVID-19
An issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation covering the ways in which states expanded telehealth access for Medicaid beneficiaries. This brief covers the broad authority states assume over what services are covered under telehealth in their Medicaid programs, as well as the additional actions taken to improve access for both patients and providers to telehealth technologies.

(06/21/20) Gov. Polis Extends State of Disaster Emergency for Colorado
Colorado Governor Jared Polis has announced he is extending the State of Disaster Emergency for his state. Also included in this extension are executive orders to ensure Medicaid beneficiaries are able to be served by an adequate health workforce.

(06/18/20) As States Reopen, Do They Have the Workforce They Need to Stop Coronavirus Outbreaks?
An article from NPR discussing the strategies states have been using to respond to the demands of COVID-19 contact tracing. As the needs are changing, some states are finding ways to meet their expected needs while others are planning for future moves or not making plans altogether.

(06/10/20) Louisiana Lawmakers Expand Access To Mental Health Services Via Telehealth
Issues with reaching those in need of behavioral health services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is being addressed by new legislation to expand telehealth guidelines in Louisiana. These expanded guidelines will allow providers to use telehealth to treat their patients, pending a signature from the Louisiana governor.

(06/08/20) State Health Director Tells Arizona Hospitals to ‘Fully Activate’ Emergency Plans
Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, has written a letter to hospitals in Arizona directing them to make preparations for enacting a state crisis plan to ensure they are able to meet the demands of a potential surge in COVID-19 cases. This plan includes increasing capacity of hospitals as well as changing criteria for admission to hospitals, among others.

(06/08/20) University of Hawaii, DOH Begin Training COVID-19 Contact Tracers
The University of Hawaii and the Hawaii State Department of Health have announced that the first group of contact tracers have begun their training. A pilot program of 16 trainees is expected to train as many as 320 contact tracers to help Hawaii combat the spread of COVID-19.

(05/31/20) COVID-19 Related State Actions
An updated list from the Public Health Institute Center for Connected Health Policy on regulatory changes to telehealth and telemedicine practices across the United States, with clear descriptions of legal changes and sources linked for each state.

(05/27/20) RI lawmakers OK Bill Requiring Insurers Permanently Cover Telehealth Services
A bill signed into law by the Rhode Island legislature requires health insurers to cover telehealth services permanently. Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo initially issued an executive order in March to cover telehealth services for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

(05/26/20) COVID-19 and Access to Medical Care in the United States
An article from Allison K. Hoffman, a professor of law at University of Pennsylvania Law School, covering the strategies many states have implemented to address the COVID-19 crisis. These include assisting uninsured individuals, regulatory flexibility to health care providers, and increasing access to telehealth.

(05/26/20) Maine DHHS Expands COVID-19 Contact Tracing
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has announced an effort to expand contact tracing within their state to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes a three-step plan of increasing personnel, deploying a new alert system, and expanding social support for those struggling.

(05/18/20) States Lead the Way in Responding to COVID-19 and Advancing Innovative Health Policy Solutions On Many Fronts
A blog post describing many of the strategies states implemented to improve access to health care and improving their health workforce capacities.

(05/13/20) COVID-19 Related State Actions
An updated list from the Public Health Institute Center for Connected Health Policy on regulatory changes to telehealth and telemedicine practices across the United States, with clear descriptions of legal changes and sources linked for each state.

(05/06/20) Gov. Wolf Outlines Plans to Create Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps to Support Fall COVID-19 Recovery Efforts
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has announced an initiative called the Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps to increase testing and contact tracing, as well as provide for employment in the public health sector.

(05/06/20) The Nurse Practitioner Workforce And Its Role In The Massachusetts Health Care Delivery System
A policy brief from the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission discussing the role of nurse practitioners in providing care in Massachusetts. The brief recommends the removal of scope of practice restrictions and incident-to billing as solutions to improve the effectiveness of the nurse practitioner workforce in Massachusetts.

(05/06/20) Out-Of-State Medical Professionals Can Continue in New York
An article describing the executive order signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo allowing out of state health care professionals to continue working in New York State without a license until June 4.

(05/04/20) California Readies Army Of Coronavirus Detectives
The administration of California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a partnership with University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, San Francisco to train more than 3,000 employees per week to trace the spread of COVID-19 across California.

(05/04/20) NY Will Hire Contact Tracing ‘Army’ Of 17,000 To Battle Coronavirus, Cuomo Says
As part of the plan to reopen New York State, between 6,400 and 17,000 contact tracers are expected to be hired to track contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases within New York State. This effort will be coordinated with Connecticut and New Jersey.

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