President Joe Biden is considering requiring COVID-19 testing for all travelers on flights to the US, regardless of vaccination status. Biden also proposed requiring private health insurers to reimburse patients for the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests.
In Washington, the Senate passed a continuing resolution to fund the federal government at current levels until February 18; narrowly avoiding a government shutdown. President Biden signed the CR into law on Friday.
Charlie Baker announced last week that he will not be running for a third term as Governor. Baker has served as Governor of Massachusetts since 2015. Lt. Governor Karen Polito announced that she will not be running. While the field is expected to grow, candidates include state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, former state Senator Ben Downing, and Harvard professor Danielle Allen on the Democratic side, and Republican former state Representative Geoff Diehl, who ran against Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate in 2018.
The Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives sent a compromised version of the $4 billion ARPA and state surplus funding package to the Governor’s desk on Friday. By including local earmarks from both branches, the compromise legislation is roughly $200 million higher than both the Senate and House versions passed last month. Millions in funding for healthcare, housing, workforce development, transportation infrastructure, and environmental protection are included in the package.
Addressing the pandemic continues in Massachusetts. COVID-19 antibody treatment sites for high-risk individuals have been stood up in three disproportionately-impacted communities – Everett, Fall River, and Holyoke. Digital COVID-19 vaccine passports will soon become a reality in Massachusetts, joining dozens of states that have already adopted them.
The Biden Administration is one step closer to promoting a Massachusetts public official. The US Senate on Thursday advanced the nomination of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins for US attorney for Massachusetts.
Several legislative committees hold public hearings this week. The Financial Services Committee holds a public hearing on Thursday on legislation related to health insurance. The Post Audit and Oversight Committee holds a public hearing on the performance of the Commonwealth’s Unemployment Insurance system with testimony by invitation only on Friday.
On Monday, the Future of Work Commission holds a public hearing to hear testimony from stakeholders on issues affecting the future of work and the workplace.
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Public Health Council meets to discuss overdose prevention and harm reduction efforts, and updates from the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey.
The Merrimack Valley Substance Use Disorder Symposium is Friday. The virtual event will convene industry experts to provide information on local resources and coordinate services across the region.