Last month, Minnesota lawmakers passed an emergency law authorizing $200 million in grant funding to support eligible health care organizations in covering their costs related to planning for, preparing for, or responding to the outbreak of COVID–19. The first $50 million in COVID–19 Short Term Emergency Funding was awarded on April 8th. An additional $150 million through the Planning and Response Grant Program will be dispersed through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, which was published April 14, 2020.

While there is no deadline for responses to the RFP, MDH has emphasized that funds will run out and has encouraged eligible providers to submit applications as soon as possible.

MDH has also emphasized that applicants should intentionally identify how a grant would serve diverse populations, especially populations “experiencing inequities and/or disparities.”

Eligible providers include health systems, ambulance services, health care clinics, pharmacies, health care facilities or long-term care facilities

Grant applications will be reviewed on the following selection criteria:

  • Needs across the health care system and within different regions of the state for additional resources to address the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • Geographic locations or care settings with high incidence of COVID-19;
  • Applicants with emergency or urgent needs related to COVID-19 planning, screening, testing or treatment;
  • Organizations with high financial needs and lacking resources to respond in a timely manner;
  • Whether the applicant may be reimbursed from another source for resources used to address the COVID-19 outbreak; and
  • Other criteria as determined by the commissioner

Grant funding is intended to pay for non-reimbursable expenses specific for use in COVID-19 planning and response incurred on or after March 18, 2020, and may include:

  • Purchasing PPE;
  • Staff overtime and hiring expenses;
  • Screening and testing procedures;
  • Patient outreach;
  • Specialty cleaning;
  • Establishing temporary sites to provide testing services, treatment or isolation or quarantine.

Expenses not tied directly to COVID-19 planning and response are not eligible for grant funding.  This includes taxes, fundraising, lost revenue, rent/utilities, medical claims for staff, clients, patient or residents and social supports for clients unrelated to medical care.

Each grant recipient must enter into a grant agreement with MDH and comply with the terms of that agreement.  Grant recipients are required to submit four written progress reports in August 30, 2020, November 30, 2020, January 31, 2021 and April 30, 2021.  The reports must include financial data and activity reports depending on the approved use of the grant funds.  Grant recipients will also be required to submit financial reports documenting expenditures with supporting documentation on the same schedule.

The application is comprehensive and requires detailed organizational and financial information and to provide a narrative request for funds to be used for five primary budget categories, including:

  • Staff and Personnel Costs
  • Supplies
  • Equipment
  • Construction
  • Other, including shipping and courier costs for testing, temporary technology for telemedicine, etc.

Providers should quickly — but carefully and accurately — complete applications.  MDH’s decision to award or not award grant funds is final and not subject to further appeal or reconsideration.