Emergency COVID-19 Funding Bill

03/17/2020

Lawmakers worked through the night Monday to take emergency action to combat the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota. Both the House and Senate unanimously passed a $200 million funding package that will give healthcare systems funding for needed supplies, equipment, and workers. The bill was signed by Governor Walz today.

The number of infections is expected to continue to grow as more tests are conducted. Currently Minnesota has 60 known cases throughout the state.

The emergency aid bill gives the Minnesota Department of Health $150 million to make grants to providers for costs related to the pandemic. Eligible providers include health care or long-term care facilities, clinics, providers, pharmacies, ambulance services and health systems. The money can be used to pay staff, set up temporary testing and treatment units, purchase protective gear and make other changes aimed at slowing the spread of the contagious virus.

In the bill, there’s a focus on isolating suspected coronavirus patients from other medical populations and expanding the use of online medicine to allow access to medical care without leaving the home. The bill also protects out-of-network patients requiring providers who take the money to test and treat people even if they lack insurance and accept the median network rate without billing the patient the excess costs.
The bill includes an additional $50 million for the public health response contingency account which enables near-immediate disbursement.

According to a summary provided by the House, grants may be used for:

  • Establishment and operation of temporary sites to provide testing services, to provide treatment beds, or to isolate or quarantine affected individuals.

  • Temporary conversion of a space for another purpose that will revert to its original use.

  • Staff overtime and hiring additional staff.

  • Staff training and orientation.

  • Purchasing consumable protective or treatment supplies and equipment to protect or treat staff, visitors, and patients.

  • Development and implementation of screening and testing procedures.

  • Patient outreach activities.

  •  Additional emergency transportation of patients.

  • Temporary IT and systems costs to support patient triage, screening and telemedicine activities.

  • Purchasing replacement parts or filters for medical equipment that are necessary for the equipment’s operation.

  • Specialty cleaning supplies.

  • Expenses related to the isolation or quarantine of staff (not including wages).

  • Other expenses not expected to generate income for the eligible provider after the outbreak end.

Immediately following the passage of the COVID-19 bill, lawmakers left the Capitol and are on an on-call basis (passed by resolution) but not expected to return until April 14 at the earliest except to pass urgent bills. Leaders indicated legislators would continue to work behind the scenes and via remote constituent meetings.

 

Please reach out to any of the Larkin Hoffman Government Relations team members with any questions.