Information about COVID-19 for providers of alcohol, drugs and other addictions services
The governor granted the Minnesota Department of Human Services emergency temporary authority to change administrative and regulatory requirements for food assistance, home care, public health care and other state programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Find a complete list of temporary waivers and program modifications. We will describe many of these modifications further in DHS bulletins.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on June 9, 2020, additional distributions from the $50 billion Provider Relief Fund. Approximately $15 billion will go to eligible Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers that participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs and that have not already received funds from the Provider Relief Fund. This includes home and community-based service (HCBS) providers.
These payments will not be made automatically. Providers need to go to the federal portal to apply for this support. Eligible providers must have directly billed either their state Medicaid/CHIP programs (DHS) or Medicaid-managed care plans for health care-related services during the period of Jan. 1, 2018, to May 31, 2020. Nearly 1 million providers may be eligible across the country.
HHS also announced the distribution of $10 billion in Provider Relief Funds to safety net hospitals, those hospitals that serve our most vulnerable citizens. Recognizing the incredibly thin margins these organizations operate on, these payments will be made directly to hospitals this week via direct deposit.
Providers are encouraged to apply even if they are uncertain if they are eligible. More information about the requirements and distributions is available online at the HHS website, including these recently updated resources:
During the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency, the Behavioral Health Division is offering some grantees flexibilities that it wouldn't otherwise provide. There are two main categories of flexibilities that BHD is currently authorizing for some grantees:
Temporary relaxation or waiver of contractual requirements. For example*:
waiving a requirement that service needs to be provided face-to-face;
waiving a requirement that a grantee must host a conference;
waiving a deadline that has become challenging due to COVID-19
Temporary authorization for grantee to use existing funds for an activity that was not already in the budget or work-plan. For example*:
purchasing iPads and safety equipment;
telepresence equipment or software;
providing transportation of clients;
providing for the delivery of food or medication to clients
*these are not exhaustive lists
Important reminders (and disclaimers) for grantees
For many of these flexibilities, we will not need to execute an amendment immediately
We will, however, have to follow-up with an amendment after the fact
The specifics related to whether we will need an amendment depend on the specific language in a contract; questions should be routed to your BHD grant manager
Grantees should not assume that they have been granted a waiver, unless provided in writing
Grantees still have to track and record all expenditures, including what is spent on COVID-19 related activities
BHD grants managers have less latitude to authorize flexibility for federally-funded grants; there is strong guidance on SAMHSA's website related to COVID-19 flexibilities, and other guidance for providers.
Flexibilities are authorized only for the duration of the Peacetime emergency
Every grant program is subject to individual requirements and nuances. Therefore, please reach out to your grant manager to discuss what flexibilities can be authorized.
DHS wants to ensure the 1.1 million Minnesotans covered by Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare do not lose access to care and services, including mental health and substance use disorder coverage, during the pandemic.
COVID-19 has been extremely disruptive to behavioral health services. Many services paid for by public health programs require in person face-to-face visits, a real challenge for the safety of people receiving services and health care providers with shelter-in-place orders and guidelines to practice social distancing.
DHS received federal approval to temporarily ease certain limits in existing law for receiving needed care and services through telephone and video visits that can instead be provided safely and effectively without an in person face-to-face visit by:
Expanding the definition of telemedicine to include telephone calls so providers who have a telemedicine agreement in place with DHS can serve patients through telephone or tele-video visits.
Allowing a provider’s first visit with a patient to be conducted over the phone.
Allowing Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare enrollees to have more than three telemedicine visits in a week.
Requiring DHS-contracted managed care plans to follow these same policies.
Using the authority granted under the Governor’s Emergency Executive Order 20-12, DHS submitted and has received a waiver request to the federal government to temporarily expand access to telemedicine services for Minnesotans enrolled in Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare.
This waiver temporarily expands the list of DHS-enrolled providers and their tribal equivalents who will be permitted to provide services through telephone and video visits to include:
Providers who are considered “licensed health care providers” and providers supervised by licensed medical providers
Mental health certified peer specialists and mental health certified family peer specialists
Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) providers
Mental health behavioral aides in Children’s Therapeutic Support services (CTSS)
Alcohol and drug counselors, alcohol and drug counselor-temps, recovery peers, and student interns in licensed SUD programs
Providers of SUD Rule 25 assessments, comprehensive assessments and group therapy
This waiver remains in effect until June 30, 2021, contingent on continued federal approval.
See page 5 of the order, under exemptions 6, a, ii, iv, and v:
ii. Providers of, and workers supporting, reproductive health care, childbirth services, mental health care, and substance use treatment.
iii. Workers supporting manufacturers, technicians, logistics and warehouse operators, and distributors of personal care, hygiene, and healthcare products.
iv. Workers providing home care and human services workers from government or non-profit providers who are delivering food, prescriptions, case management services, mental health and substance abuse therapy, or who are otherwise caring for a client.
v. Workers providing or supporting home-based care for adults, seniors, and children, including but not limited to people who are blind, deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing and people with disabilities, including physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, substance use disorders, or mental illness.
These critical services exemptions apply only to travel to and from an individual’s home or residence and place of work and an individual’s performance of work duties that cannot be done at their homes or residence. Travel may include transportation to and from childcare or school settings as necessary to ensure the safe care of children. This list of Critical Sectors may be clarified, as deemed necessary by the Governor, to ensure the health, safety, and security of all Minnesotans. Clarifications will be available for public review.