Earlier this week, the Minnesota House and Senate unanimously approved emergency funding that will help hospitals and clinics respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure Minnesotans can get the care they need.
Emergency Funding for Hospitals, Clinics, and Other Health Care Providers
The emergency funding bill that we approved provides $150 million for grants that can be used for costs related to addressing an outbreak of COVID-19. The grants can be used for a variety of purposes, including establishing temporary testing sites, providing treatment beds, and isolating or quarantining affected individuals. A broad range of health care providers are eligible.
As a condition of accepting a grant, health care providers must agree not to bill uninsured patients for the cost of COVID-19 screening, testing, or treatment. If a patient is out-of-network, providers must agree to accept the median network rate as payment in full.
The bill also includes an additional $50 million for the public health response contingency account. These funds are used for emergency costs that are necessary to plan for, prepare for, or respond to a pandemic.
Over the weekend, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-02, directing schools to temporarily close by Wednesday, March 18 so administrators and teachers can engage in long-term strategic planning to provide education and essential services for students and their families. Schools will continue providing meals to students in need, mental health services, and care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers to ensure Minnesota’s first line of defense against COVID-19 can stay on the job.
Minneapolis Public Schools will be closed until April 5. Information about meal distribution sites, distance learning, and other resources for MPS students is available here. If you have additional questions, you can visit www.education.mn.gov or call a state hotline dedicated to schools and child care at 651-297-1304. The hotline is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Restaurant and Bar Closures
On Tuesday, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-04 to order the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars to dine-in customers. Delivery and curbside take-out services are still permitted. Other venues, such as theaters, museums, fitness centers, and community clubs, were also ordered to close temporarily.
In an effort to support the many Minnesotans affected by these closures, the Governor signed Executive Order 20-05 to strengthen Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and ensure that workers who aren’t able to work as a result of COVID-19 have benefits available. Specifically, this Executive Order waives the employer surcharge and allows the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to pay unemployment benefits immediately, providing fast relief to employees who need it.
I strongly encourage those impacted by this temporary closure to apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) under the state’s program. For more information and to apply online, visit www.uimn.org.
Additional information for workers and employers is available at www.mn.gov/deed. A state hotline is available at 661-259-7114 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Changes at the Legislature
The Legislature is still in session, but we’ve made several changes to protect the health of legislators, staff, and our constituents. All committee hearings have been cancelled, and we won’t meet regularly on the House floor for a few weeks. However, we are poised to pass legislation that’s necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic or help Minnesotans navigate the challenges it has created.
Although we won’t be able to meet in-person, you can still reach me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (651-296-5375)! Please let me know if you have any questions, feedback, or suggestions, or if I can ever be of assistance.