Minnesota Hospital Association


May 06, 2019

MHA Newsline: May 6, 2019

In this issue 

Hospital, health system leaders rally in support of provider tax

Two dozen hospital and health system leaders from across Minnesota, part of the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA), on May 2 joined Governor Tim Walz and Department of Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey at a meeting and press conference in support of keeping Minnesota’s health care provider tax in place.   

Under current state law, the provider tax, which was created with bipartisan support 27 years ago, will sunset on Dec. 31, 2019. This 2% tax on health care providers, hospitals and wholesale drug distributors has been a critical funding source for affordable health care coverage and has resulted in better health for Minnesotans across the state.   

“These health care leaders care for the real people who will face real consequences if we allow the provider tax to sunset,” said Walz. “They came from all four corners of the state – from Winona to Bemidji and from Mora to Marshall – to stand up for preserving health care coverage.”   

Learn more on the MHA website.   

Gov. Walz, DHS Commissioner Lourey visit Lake Region Healthcare
Lake Region Healthcare hosted a roundtable April 30 with Gov. Walz and DHS Commissioner Lourey to discuss how the provider tax supports community health care.   

“Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems have long advocated for preserving health care coverage for low-income Minnesotans,” said Kyle Richards, CEO, Lake Region Healthcare. “The provider tax finances MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance, which provide health care coverage for 300,000 people with low incomes across Minnesota and nearly 17,000 people in our immediate service area. Hospitals and health systems are willing to pay this tax because we are dedicated to putting our patients and the communities we serve first.” return to top   

HHS omnibus bill conferees appointed

The Minnesota Legislature is entering the last two weeks of the session and the focus is on finalizing the two-year statewide budget. The Senate and House have passed their respective budget proposals, which will now head to conference committee to reconcile the differences.   

The health and human services (HHS) omnibus bill conferees are Sens. Benson, Abeler, Marty, Jensen and Utke and Reps. Liebling, Moran, Halverson, Schultz and Hamilton. There are significant differences between the two proposals and the committee will likely work extensively this week in an effort to reach agreement on a health and human services budget by May 13, the deadline agreed to by Gov. Walz and the House and Senate leaders.   

With questions, contact Mary Krinkie, vice president of government relations, MHA, 651-659-1465, or Kristen McHenry, director of state government relations, MHA, 651-603-3526.   

Session bill tracker
For a complete list of 2019 legislative bills MHA is tracking, visit the MHA Member Center. For assistance accessing the Member Center, contact Ashley Beno, member services and communications specialist, MHA, 651-603-3545. return to top   

CMS drafts clarifying guidance on ligature risks

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued draft guidance to clarify previous instructions regarding standards for addressing ligature risks. Since issuing its previous interpretive guidelines in 2017, many hospitals and health systems in Minnesota and across the country have raised questions about the standards they must meet and the appropriateness of those standards across all settings.   

The draft guidance attempts to clarify CMS’s expectations by refining the definition of what constitutes a ligature risk, establishing a process for hospitals to request an extension when ligature risk-based renovations within 60 days are impossible or would pose an undue hardship and distinguishing between requirements for locked and unlocked units. Locked psychiatric units within psychiatric hospitals, acute care hospitals and emergency departments must provide a ligature-resistant environment. Unlocked psychiatric units and general acute-care beds designated for treating physical health conditions do not have to meet the “ligature-resistant” standard, but the hospital must have plans for identifying and protecting patients who might try to harm themselves or others.   

MHA is reviewing the draft guidance and will submit comments. In addition to submitting their own individual comments, MHA encourages members to share their feedback, questions and concerns with Matt Anderson, senior vice president of policy and chief strategy officer, MHA, so they can be included in MHA’s comments. Comments are due to CMS by June 17. return to top   

CMS proposes guidance to ease hospital space-sharing restrictions

Surveyors in other states have taken actions to prohibit co-location or space-sharing arrangements between hospitals and visiting specialists or other providers. According to these surveyors’ interpretations, hospitals sharing space with a specialist or other health care entity had to demonstrate complete physical and operational separation from the other provider, including requiring hospitals to build separate entrances, waiting and receptionist areas and other structural barriers from the hospital’s areas and services.   

MHA, the American Hospital Association and other health care advocacy groups have highlighted the impracticality and expense of these interpretations and have urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to clarify its standards, especially for rural hospitals that rely on and make space available to visiting specialists as a way to provide access to care that would otherwise not exist in their communities.   

In response, CMS issued draft guidance regarding co-location or space-sharing arrangements between hospitals and other providers. The draft guidance would allow hospitals to share entrances, public areas, hallways, waiting rooms and other common areas with co-located providers. It also authorizes arrangements for sharing staff under certain circumstances. Citing infection risks, confidentiality and other patient care concerns, the draft guidance expects only limited situations in which shared use of clinical spaces would be appropriate.  

MHA is reviewing the draft guidance and will submit comments. In addition to submitting their own individual comments, MHA encourages members to share their feedback, questions and concerns with Matt Anderson, senior vice president of policy and chief strategy officer, MHA, so they can be included in MHA’s comments. Comments are due to CMS by July 2. return to top   

PAC golf tournament scheduled for July 29

Registration is now open for the Minnesota Hospital Political Action Committee (PAC) golf tournament. The tournament will be held on July 29 at Territory Golf Club in St. Cloud. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., shotgun start at 12:30 p.m., with a dinner buffet and awards to follow at 5 p.m. Please contact Andrea Wombacher, division assistant, MHA, 651-603-3539, for more information and to register. return to top