ST. PAUL - In order to protect the health and well-being of Minnesotans, Republican state lawmakers have penned a letter to Governor Walz urging him to allow health care providers to get back to work and for surgeries and procedures to resume. A copy of the letter can be found here.
"Tens of thousands of Minnesotans need medical care—including surgeries, chronic pain management, and cancer treatments—and many of their needs are being delayed due to the governor's executive order," said State Representative Barb Haley (R-Red Wing), who helped coordinate the letter signed by dozens of lawmakers. "Those who have been suffering mentally and physically for weeks are every bit as essential as our COVID-19 patients."
"The Executive Order was about delaying procedures in order to help our hospitals prepare for COVID," said Senator Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake) "Now that our COVID response has reached the next level, it's time for us to stop the delays and return to providing nation-leading health care to Minnesotans. I am confident our health care providers will work together to thoughtfully reopen procedures while ensuring critical resources are still available for the COVID response."
The letter was also signed by Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Minnesota House Republican Leader Kurt Daudt.
Since the arrival of COVID-19, providers and the state have had weeks to procure, stabilize access to, and improve management of their supplies. Now, the letter notes, the consequences of limiting care have become more apparent.
In addition to the Minnesotans who contact lawmakers each day wondering why they cannot receive care, hospitals across the state are being forced to lay-off or cut the pay of the very nurses and doctors this order was meant to protect. Tens of thousands of Minnesotans working in health care have filed for unemployment, and that number continues to rise. These workers point out that the furloughs will worsen the health of Minnesotans as we will fail to catch or treat preventable conditions.
Furthermore, the hospitals themselves are being faced with the difficult tasks of budgeting while unable to provide any care. The Minnesota Hospital Association reports that individual hospitals and health systems are incurring losses of $31 million per day. The Mayo Clinic estimates it will lose $3 billion this year due to COVID-19 and Fairview Health Services reports estimated losses of $30 million per week. Extending this order for much longer could lead to more hospital closures and irreparable damage to the ability of people in Greater Minnesota to access care.
The letter concludes with a request that the governor reconsider Executive Order 20-09, allow hospitals and other healthcare providers to have flexibility in how they treat patients, and allow them to consider how and where they can safely treat COVID-19 patients and those seeking non-COVID care while maintaining capacity and without compromising PPE.