The article below is a top story from this week's ACTION newsletter—Care Providers of Minnesota's weekly newsletter for members. The newsletter focuses on current legislative issues, regulations, long-term care trends, and other Association news. Each Thursday evening, it is delivered to your inbox. To sign up for ACTION, contact Lisa Foss Olson (952-851-2483). To learn more about membership, visit our Become a Member page.
Emergency response legislation
By Toby Pearson | March 20, 2020 | All members
Very early in the morning on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Minnesota House and Senate passed HF3890
containing $200 million in resources for the healthcare sector to battle COVID-19. The bill passed unanimously in both bodies, but closed-door negotiations between the House and Senate did not go quite as smoothly or swiftly as hoped, giving members little time to review the final bill and pushing final passage into the middle of the night.
The package is comprised of two funds:
- $50 million under the state’s public health response contingency account, which has rules built in that would allow the money to get where it’s needed quickly
- $150 million to create a healthcare response fund in the state treasury, which would be used to make grants and take a little longer to reach the beneficiaries; any money left over on February 1, 2021 would be returned to the general fund and the section would sunset on June 30, 2022
Both funds would be accessible by care providers including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, nursing facilities, healthcare facilities, ambulance services, and settings in which assisted living services or healthcare services are provided.
The funds could be used to help plan, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 in a range of ways, including the following:
- The establishment and operation of temporary sites to provide testing services, treatment beds, or to isolate or quarantine affected people
- Staff overtime, the hiring of additional staff, and training or orientation
- Consumable protective or treatment supplies and equipment
- Patient outreach
- Specialty cleaning supplies
- The purchase of replacement parts and filters for equipment
- Expenses related to the isolation or quarantine of staff
We understand that this legislation is in addition to already existing authority by DHS to cover costs through the Medicaid reimbursement system. We continue to work with DHS to understand how costs will be covered through that authority and how the legislatively-appropriated relief and Medicaid funding will be implemented.
We, along with our partners in the Long-Term Care Imperative, have also identified several questions regarding the new MDH granting authority and sent a list of questions to the state agencies. Included in those questions is the intersection between this state appropriation and the expected passage of a federal relief bill that will provide state with enhanced federal match. In addition, we are aware of the need for additional regulatory flexibility and continue to work with both Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to look at state waivers and to prepare for when the expected waivers are issued.
Coverage of telemedicine
The bill also included an expansion of the ability to use telemedicine services by changing the definition of “originating site” to include a patient’s residence if the patient is receiving healthcare services or consultations by means of telemedicine. It also stated that a health carrier shall not exclude or reduce coverage for a healthcare service or consultation solely because the service is provided via telemedicine directly to a patient at the patient’s residence.
The legislature is now “on hiatus” until April 14, but sporadic activity is possible between now and then. There are expected to be additional COVID-related relief bills to deal with the economic effects of business closings, worker layoffs, school closings, childcare issues, and more.
Monday’s announcement by Governor Walz that his latest executive order
was closing bars, restaurants, gyms, etc., in order to combat community spread of the virus also came with an order
to expand the state’s Unemployment Insurance program to try to serve the Minnesotans who will be out of a job due to these business closures. Employers and employees affected by these closures are being urged to go to the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance site
to learn more about their options. Information about how to access additional state resources can be found here
Toby Pearson | Vice President of Advocacy | firstname.lastname@example.org | 952-851-2480