MN Legislature passes $200 million COVID-19 funding bill

The Legislature passed a bill appropriating $200 million in funding to support our state’s healthcare system this week, in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Senators worked late into the night to pass this urgent legislation with unanimous, bipartisan support. These resources will be added to the public health response contingency account and used to create a health care response fund for the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

From this bill, $150 million is appropriated to MDH to create temporary testing, treatment, and quarantine sites and to make and administer a grant program for health care providers for costs related to COVID-19. Along with hospitals and clinics, providers working in ambulance services, pharmacies, nursing homes, or long-term care facilities are eligible for these grants. We know that Minnesotans in and out of the health care field are concerned with costs associated with COVID-19, which is why as a condition of accepting a grant, the provider must agree not to bill uninsured patients for the cost of COVID-19 screening, testing, or treatment. If a patient is out-of-network, the provider must agree to accept the median network rate as payment in full. 

Some of the activities these grants may be used for include:

  • Establishment and operation of temporary sites to provide testing services, to provide treatment beds, or to isolate or quarantine affected individuals
  • Staff overtime, hiring additional 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

The remaining $50 million will be added to the public health response contingency account. This is in addition to the $20.9 million passed earlier this month. This money can be used for costs relating to planning, preparing, or responding to a pandemic influenza or communicable or infectious disease. 

Senate DFLers continue to identify other relief efforts that will be required as this pandemic evolves.  We support the initiative taken by Governor Walz, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, and DFL leaders in the House who have introduced proposals that will provide more support and flexibility to Minnesotans as we continue to follow recommended MDH and CDC guidelines. While more work is needed as we move through this uncertain time, Senate DFLers are committed to protecting the health and safety of all Minnesotans. (SF 4334)