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Minnesota Legislature

Telehealth coverage among technical changes passed by House

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An extension of insurance coverage for people using telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic was one of several largely technical changes passed Monday by the House.

It would move the expiration date of a 2020 law that allows insurance providers, and the Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare programs, to cover telemedicine services that take place at a patient’s residence. That coverage, which had been set to expire Feb. 1, 2021 would be extended until June 30, 2021.

House Floor debate on SSHF19 12/14/20

Supporters say telehealth has proven to be very reliable care while also protecting patients and health care providers from unnecessary risk of infections.

That provision was included in SSHF19, sponsored by House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley), which passed 117-14.

“This bill contains several provisions that make technical and other small changes to existing law,” Winkler said.

Other provisions in the bill include:

  • allowing certified community behavioral health clinics not enrolled in an ongoing federal demonstration project to be reimbursed with state funds while the state seeks federal approval to cover their services as Medicaid state plan services. The clinics were developed to integrate mental health and substance use disorder services and coordinate care;
  • technical corrections to 2019 health and human services appropriations that include moving money for fraud prevention and safe harbor grants appropriated in fiscal year 2021 to the correct budget activities;
  • moving back the effective date, from Jan. 6, 2021 to March 31, 2021, for a law passed during the Legislature’s fifth special session in October that allows video conferencing instead of in-person appearances before a notarial officer for some real estate transactions during and for 60 days after the peacetime public health emergency;
  • technical changes and clarifying language to better facilitate the transition as the state implements a new law requiring assisted living facilities to be licensed by the Health Department beginning Aug. 1, 2021;
  • extending the availability of a $750,000 appropriation to the Crow Wing County Soil and Water Conservation district until June 30, 2022 to allow the district more time to purchase conservation easements and develop forest stewardship plans to protect water quality in lakes and rivers in Aitkin and Crow Wing counties. The money comes from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund; and
  • adopting recommendations from the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council that were made in the spring of 2020.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) was one of several Republican members to vote against the bill. He said the changes covered a variety of subject areas and violated the single subject clause of the Minnesota Constitution and called the bill “lazy” and “sloppy” legislating.

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