At 2:00 today, March 20, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced three new Executive Orders. The first addressed price gouging, while the other two focused on ensuring that Minnesotans in need of services administered through and overseen by the Department of Human Services (DHS) are able to continue to access those services.
Minnesota does not have a law specific to price gouging, which has become a problem in recent weeks. This order prohibits businesses from engaging in price gouging while the peacetime emergency is in place.
This order directs DHS to seek all federal 1135 waivers available. While the federal government has already made available a variety of blanket waivers, 1135 waivers are available to states during a declared Public Health Emergency, and allow for the waiving of certain Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provisions under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act. To date, Florida and Washington state have been granted 1135 waivers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government is encouraging states to apply.
Executive Order 20-12 grants DHS temporary emergency authority to waive or modify various existing statutes and administrative rules that set standards intended to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans. Scores of service providers have expressed the need to loosen these standards in order to provide for continuity of service while maintaining health and safety standards related to COVID-19.