DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEYS GENERAL SHOWING LEADERSHIP IN ADDRESSING COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Democratic AGs Taking Necessary Steps to Protect the People

As the country continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19, many communities are figuring out how to address the need for testing, paid sick leave, and other aspects of our healthcare system.

Democratic AGs are on the front lines of the response, and continue to provide guidance in their roles as chief legal officer in their states:

  • Dem AGs are working with local communities to combat discrimination being felt by Asian American communities and businesses.
  • Dem AGs are holding scammers accountable and sounding the alarm to consumers to report price gouging and other harmful practices.
  • Dem AGs are in court fighting to save the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which is currently keeping costs down and providing critical coverage for necessary testing and treatment.
  • Dem AGs are urging the Trump administration to delay the public-charge rule, which establishes the criteria for who can get green cards based on whether they use or are expected to use government benefits, such as food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing.

FIGHTING AGAINST DISCRIMINATION ASIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY: Dem AGs are working with local leaders to combat discrimination against the Asian-American community and businesses. Connecticut AG William Tong and Governor Ned Lamont hosted a roundtable discussion with Asian-American small business owners to discuss the impact that the international spread of coronavirus is having on their businesses and to assure residents that these businesses are safe to support.

PROTECTING CONSUMERS FROM PRICE GOUGING: Dem AGs are issuing consumer alerts, urging people to report price gouging and scammers, and holding any bad actors accountable (see additional background below). New York AG Tish James already issued cease and desist orders for two New York City merchants charging customers excessive prices for hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays, and ordered a prominent televangelist to stop promoting a fake cure for the virus.

“On my watch, we will not tolerate schemes or frauds designed to turn large profits by exploiting people’s health concerns,” said AG James.


PROTECTING HEALTH CARE:
According the Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, “there’s an important link between broader healthcare policies like the Affordable Care Act and responding to a potential public health emergency like this virus.”

  • A provision in the ACA would likely make any coronavirus vaccine free for most people with health insurance.
  • Additionally, the landmark law expanded insurance coverage for millions of Americans.

Coronavirus is a haunting example of why the Dem AG defense of the ACA led by California AG Xavier Becerra is so important.

Health care is going to be front and center for Americans as the nation confronts this virus and as people head to the polls in November.


PUSHING FOR A DELAY IN PUBLIC CHARGE:
Last Friday, 17 Dem AGs led by Washington AG Bob Ferguson called on the Trump administration to delay its discriminatory public charge rule for immigrants.

The Dem AG letter condemns the administration for discouraging people from accessing health care services in the midst of a public health crisis. The letter reads:

“During the notice and comment period for the Rule, DHS received warnings of the potentially devastating effects of the Rule if its implementation were to coincide with the outbreak of a highly communicable disease – a scenario exactly like the one confronting our communities with the COVID-19 public health emergency. Your agency failed to consider such legitimate concerns.”

“Communities across America are undertaking extensive efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Your agency’s Public Charge Rule undermines those efforts by deterring individuals from accessing critical health benefits to which they are legally entitled. Failure to immediately stay implementation of the Rule so that we can take the steps necessary to contain and mitigate the outbreak of the disease puts the public health and safety of our communities at increased risk.”

Additional Background:

CA: Attorney General Becerra Issues Consumer Alert on Price Gouging Following Statewide Declaration of Emergency for Novel Coronavirus Cases in California Communities

CT: Scam Alert: Coronavirus Inspires Scam Artists to Target Consumers. Agencies warn consumers to avoid imposter scams and claims of miracle medicines

DE: Attorney General’s Office issues warning about coronavirus con artists

DC: CONSUMER ALERT: Beware of Coronavirus Scams

IL: Attorney general issues warning about COVID-19 scams

IA: Miller cautions Iowans about coronavirus-related price gouging, fraud

MD: Watch out for coronavirus scams, Maryland attorney general warns

MA: AG Healey Warns Against Coronavirus Scams, Price Gouging

MI: Michigan attorney general warns of Coronavirus scams

NV: Nevada Attorney General warns retailers about price gouging due to coronavirus

NJ: NJ cracks down on price gouging, scams related to coronavirus

NY: State Attorney General offers guidance for New Yorkers to be aware of coronavirus-related scams

NC: ‘It’s heartbreaking how heartless certain people are’ | North Carolina Attorney General warns of coronavirus scams

OR: Coronavirus: Scammers Love Scary News

PA: Avoiding new scams related to the coronavirus outbreak

VA: Attorney General Herring warns Virginians about coronavirus scams

WA: AG Ferguson takes actions to respond to coronavirus

WI: Kaul: Watch out for coronavirus price gouging, scams