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Uniform Service Standards (USS)

The Uniform Service Standards (USS) project is a multi-phase reform of the regulatory structure and requirements of state-funded mental health services in Minnesota. This project is necessary because the current regulatory structure and requirements are complex, confusing and outdated, hampering the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ (DHS) ability to regulate services effectively and support providers in delivering high-quality care to Minnesotans. 

Current regulatory requirements come from various state laws, rules and other authorities, some dating to the 1950s. As a result, basic requirements of similar services can vary without a clear justification. For example, there are currently 47 different definitions of “mental health professional.” 

The USS project will simplify and clarify the regulatory requirements of state-funded mental health services. Specifically, the project will align common standards across different service lines and eliminate requirements that do not add value. This will ensure providers can understand the regulations that apply to their services and allow them to design common workflows for staff, electronic medical records and compliance.

Additionally, the current regulatory structure is inefficient. It is not unified or consistent. For example, different areas of DHS — such as provider enrollment, behavioral health and licensing — may conduct similar reviews of the same program at different times, leading to significant costs and confusion for providers. 

The USS project will transition the regulatory structure of state-funded mental health services to a unified licensing structure, incorporating all licensed and certified mental health services. This will improve accountability and ensure greater consistency in the guidance given to providers.

Current status

DHS is currently in “Phase 1.5” of the USS project. We anticipate this phase of work will result in a legislative proposal that: 

  • creates a common core of requirements for state-funded mental health services, 
  • establishes the unified licensing structure, and 
  • incorporates adult residential mental health programs (residential crisis stabilization and intensive residential treatment services) and a replacement for the Rule 29 mental health centers and clinics certification into the new licensing structure.    

Subsequent phases of the USS project will incorporate the remaining state-funded mental health services into the new licensing structure.

Design Teams

In the spring of 2019, DHS convened a design team for Phase 1.5 of the USS project modeled after the initial design team convened for Case Management Redesign. The team is a diverse group of individuals, internal and external to DHS, helping to shape the analysis and recommendations for leadership review. 

The agency will reassess membership and other design aspects for the following phases of the project.

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