Elective Surgeries & Interstate License Reciprocity

Recently, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz amended Executive Order 20-51 to allow for elective surgeries when certain criteria are met and issued an executive order for license reciprocity for physicians and nurses who practice in states outside of Minnesota. Our legislative rep Dave Renner, CAE, shares more.

Elective Surgery Restrictions Amended

On May 5, 2020, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-51 that modifies an earlier order that limited non-essential health care serves. Under the new order, health care facilities may begin offering certain medical, dental and veterinary services beginning on May 11, 2020, IF the facility meets certain requirements designed to protect patients, health care workers and preserve access to needed personal protective equipment or ventilators.

The facility must develop a written plan that establishes criteria for determining whether a procedure should proceed, for prioritizing procedures and for ensuring a safe environment for staff, patients and visitors. The order also requires facilities to collaborate with other facilities in the same community to ensure adequate supplies and capacity to respond to a potential surge in COVID-19 cases.

Facilities must develop protocols to screen all staff, patients and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 and prohibit all symptomatic people from entering the facility except for emergency care. Facilities must also have detailed plans on how they will implement and enforce recommended social distancing.

The new executive order is consistent with recommendations developed jointly by the Minnesota Medical Association and 23 specialty societies and clinics, including the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, and submitted to Governor Walz and Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

The recommendations were based on the following principles:

  • focusing on delivery of care that is in the best interest of patients
  • ensuring the health and safety of patients and health care staff
  • acknowledging the harms associated with delaying needed care
  • easing restrictions on care that can be provided safely

Interstate License Reciprocity Authorized

In an effort to give hospitals and long-term care facilities the maximum ability to staff, Governor Walz issued an executive order allowing for license reciprocity for physicians and nurses who practice in states outside of Minnesota.

The executive order allows only health professionals who hold an “active, relevant license, certificate or other permit in good standing issued by a state of the United States or the District of Columbia” to practice, and further requires that the health professional “must be engaged with a health care system or provider, such as a hospital, clinic or other health care entity, in Minnesota.”

More than 25 states have authorized similar changes either via executive orders or legislative action. The executive order expires at the end of the peacetime emergency.

Of note: Some have been concerned that there are Minnesota-licensed physicians who have been furloughed and would be available to provide care at the time we are bringing in physicians from other states. Officials in the Governor’s office noted that the executive order is most likely to be used to provide additional nursing staff in long-term care facilities, where many COVID-19 cases and deaths have occurred.

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Author: Dave Renner, CAE, legislative rep, @daverenner

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