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General Assembly passes historic COVID-19 legislation

By REP. JOHN HOLSCLAW
The Tennessee General Assembly met last week in the 61st Extraordinary Session to pass legislation addressing COVID-19 liability protections, telehealth services, laws governing state property and protecting first responders.
The legislation was historic in that it addressed COVID-19 liability protections for businesses, churches, health care providers, schools and nonprofit organizations. House Bill 8001 protects these entities against frivolous lawsuits while establishing a legal pathway to protect citizens against gross negligence or willful misconduct during the pandemic.
In an effort to improve and expand health care access for all during the COVID-19 pandemic, Republicans passed legislation giving patients in Tennessee the option to receive medically necessary care at home through virtual technologies.
House Bill 8002 requires insurers to cover the costs of clinically appropriate, medically necessary services through telemedicine if that visit would be covered for an in-person visit. House Bill 8002 expands telemedicine across a variety of specialties, giving patients greater access to not only physicians and specialists, but nurse practitioners, speech and occupational therapists, and other providers.
Demand for this method of health care delivery has significantly increased during the coronavirus pandemic. This legislation increases access and affordability but also removes geographic or transportation barriers giving patients better health outcomes.
In the aftermath of violent and destructive riots across the nation and in Nashville, the General Assembly passed legislation enhancing penalties for anyone who illegally camps on state property, engages in violent rioting, vandalism or assaults a first responder.
We respect the rights of Tennesseans to be heard and to peacefully assemble. But if you destroy or vandalize property, attempt to seize property not yours, assault or impede a first responder you will go to jail and pay a fine.
Tennessee is not going to tolerate the violence and lawlessness we’ve witnessed happening in other states.”
(Rep. John Holsclaw represents Carter County and part of Unicoi County in the Tennessee Legislature)