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Statement from Commissioner Jodi Harpstead on Executive Orders 20-11 and 20-12

3/20/2020 12:00:00 PM

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has been working with the Minnesota Legislature this week on a bill that would extend our authority to support Minnesotans across the state during the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration. As it became clear that the Legislature would not convene again this week, with the support of legislative leaders, the Governor converted the most recent language of that bill into Executive Orders.

Today, we are announcing a list of provisions to support the Minnesotans we serve. These regulatory flexibilities are designed to:

  • Protect benefits.
  • Cover COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment costs.
  • Allow for in-person work to be converted to phone work.
  • And, essentially, to allow Minnesotans supported by the Department of Human Services to stay safe without losing their critical services.

Today we are also announcing flexibility for our county and tribal and community partners. We want to be sure they can focus on Minnesotans, not paperwork.

Flexibilities we are announcing today include:

  • Keeping the current Medicaid and MinnesotaCare beneficiaries on those benefits without requiring them to reapply this quarter.
  • Allowing for quarterly reassessments for services for older adults and people with disabilities to be done on the phone instead of in-person.
  • Keeping beneficiaries covered for one quarter for MFIP, General Assistance and Minnesota Supplemental Assistance support; SNAP food benefits; and GRH housing benefits; without the usual renewal process. And standing up a simplified process for getting new beneficiaries enrolled over the phone and Internet anticipating a shortage of county and tribal staff.
  • Allowing for a range of mental health services to be conducted on the phone instead of in-person.
  • Allowing for child protection caseworkers to conduct monthly visits via video technology.
  • Keeping all Child Care Assistant Program child care providers registered even if their registrations are up for renewal within the next 90 days. And paying for child absences without medical documentation. 
  • Stopping routine licensing visits and correction orders and fines for non-health and non-safety violations but will continue to monitor and conduct visits for health and safety concerns.

We are analyzing and finalizing additional flexibilities such as nursing home support and 90-day prescription provisions, and will announce additional flexibility as soon as possible.

Guidance to counties, tribes, providers, and health plans will begin rolling out immediately.  More information will be available on the DHS website on our COVID-19 page.

As we converted the legislative bill to Executive Order 20-12, we retained the provision for the Commissioner of Human Services to consult with the four chairs and minority leads of our Health and Human Services Legislative Committees by informing them within 48 hours of any flexibility we authorize and giving the chairs some ability to reverse our decisions.

Under Executive Order 20-11, we will be applying as soon as possible for federal authority to change or waive federal requirements to enable our state flexibility decisions.  In broad communications, the federal government has suggested a willingness to grant temporary authority as needed.

We are also required to document every decision, report the list of all decisions every 60 days, and make a final report to the Legislature in January, 2021 of the total impact and cost of the COVID-19 emergency.

We are grateful to every individual, provider, provider association and advocacy group who has contacted us with their concerns and requests for flexibility who have helped us to develop this initial set of first flexibilities. It is imperative that all Minnesotans, perhaps especially those served by DHS, can get through this pandemic.

Please keep the calls and emails coming and let us know what else we may need to do through this emergency to keep Minnesotans safe and healthy in our communities.

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