MN Government Updates 04.02

Minnesota Health Plans to Waive COVID-19 Related Expenses

 

  • Governor Tim Walz today announced that Minnesota’s health plans have agreed to waive cost-sharing for treatment of COVID-19. This move comes in response to the Governor’s Commissioners of Health and
  • Commerce sending a letter on March 13 urging the health plans to remove barriers to coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Minnesotans with commercial insurance – including individuals, small businesses, and some large businesses – are now eligible for the following benefits:
  • Minnesotans will have no cost-sharing charges for COVID testing.
  • Minnesotans who are hospitalized will have no cost-sharing charges for in-network hospitalization.
  • Minnesotans will have expanded access to telemedicine services. This will help people to stay home and access care if they need it.
  • Over the past month, the two commissioners have been working with Minnesota’s health plans to be sure health coverage protects Minnesotans during the pandemic. In a March 13 letter to health insurers in Minnesota, the Commissioners outlined seven areas where health plans could support the state’s response to the COVID crisis.
  • Minnesota’s non-profit health plans that have committed to this framework:
    • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
    • HealthPartners
    • Hennepin Health
    • Medica
    • PreferredOne
    • UCare
  • Many Minnesotans that receive their coverage through their employer have self-insured plans. The departments do not have regulatory authority over these plans but are encouraging employers to work with their plan administrators to implement similar measures.

Governor Walz Daily Press Briefing April 2

Governor Walz

  • Governor Walz announced that one more Minnesotan had died due to COVID-19 since yesterday’s report.
  • The governor also announced that the state trooper assigned to his security detail who tested positive for COVID-19 has fully recovered.
  • The governor and Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley provided a summary regarding Minnesota health plans agreeing to waive cost sharing for COVID-19.
  • When asked whether he will order school buildings to be continued to be closed to in-class learning for the duration of the school year, Governor Walz responded that “it’s a relatively strong possibility that will happen.”
  • Governor Walz reiterated that the lack of personal protective equipment for medical workers – doctors, nurses, and first responders – for the expected future COVID-19 care needs remains a serious challenge for the state and the country.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm announced that Minnesota now has 742 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is 53 more than yesterday’s report.
  • This includes one additional death.
  • Minnesota is now up to 18 COVID-19 deaths.
  • 138 COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized.
  • 75 of those are currently in the hospital. This is up 21 from yesterday’s report.
  • 38 of those currently hospitalized are in the ICU. This is up 11 from yesterday’s report.
  • 373 COVID-19 patients have recovered and released from isolation period.
  • Commissioner Malcolm announced that the Minnesota Department of Health will begin sharing information within the next two days on department’s website about outbreaks in long-term care facilities – including the names of facilities with more than 10 beds with at least one infection.

Director Joe Kelly, Homeland Security & Emergency Management Division

  • Director Kelly announced that he and Governor Walz are finalizing letter to President Trump requesting for Minnesota to be given a federal emergency disaster declaration.
  • This declaration would allow Minnesota to receive 100% reimbursement for mental health counseling services.

Commissioner Steve Grove, Department of Employment and Economic Development

  • Commissioner Grove announced that 297,397 unemployment applications have been submitted since March 16. He also mentioned that Minnesota is one of just four states now seeing unemployment claims trend downward.
  • The commissioner said his department is moving quickly to process payments for unemployment insurance. Currently, 90% of applications are now approved for payment.
  • The industry breakdown of those applying for unemployment insurance is as follows:
    • 66,355 in food prep
    • 27,871 in healthcare
    • 27,557 in sales and service
    • 21,881 in administrative support
    • 17,166 in personal care and service

Minnesota Senate COVID-19 Response Working Group Holds First Meeting

  • Today, the Minnesota Senate COVID-19 Response Working Group held its first meeting, which was conducted remotely. This was the first in a series of meetings, each focusing on a different policy area.
  • Healthcare providers testified today including the Minnesota Hospital Association, the Minnesota Nurses Association, and the Minnesota Association of Geriatrics. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) summarized key next steps and priorities for the legislature as it continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic including:
  • Working on the Emergency Assistance Compact to relax licensing standards and allow healthcare providers from other states to practice in Minnesota.
  • Finding financial solutions for rural hospitals, all of which have suspended elective surgeries, therefore eliminating most of their revenue.
  • Protecting hospital workers by increasing accessibility to testing and personal protective equipment, and coming to a workers compensation agreement.
  • Figuring out how to best handle COVID-19 in long term care facilities.

The next meeting of the Senate COVID-19 Response Working Group will be held tomorrow, April 3, at 11:00 AM. The meeting will be focused on economic relief and recovery efforts. The public may view livestream coverage on the Minnesota Senate’s Facebook page.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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