Gov. Walz signs executive order authorizing out-of-state health care professionals to work in Minnesota

In an executive order signed on Saturday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz authorized out-of-state health care professionals to assist in coronavirus hotspots during the state’s peacetime state of emergency.

Executive Order 20-46 bypasses usual requirements for health care practitioners to have obtained a license from the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice or the Minnesota Board of Nursing. Now, for the duration of the peacetime emergency, any health care worker who holds an active and relevant license or certification anywhere in the United States can work at a health care provider in Minnesota.

Earlier this month Walz extended Minnesota’s peacetime emergency to May 13.

The order states that certain areas of Minnesota are experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases that could overwhelm local health care providers in rural areas.

Walz cited Nobles County in particular, which saw its total multiply almost 10 times from 38 to 350 confirmed cases in the past week. Many of those cases were linked to an outbreak at a meatpacking plant in Worthington.

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"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, some hospitals and long-term care facilities are facing staffing shortages due to staff illness or inability to work for other reasons," Walz stated in the executive order. "I call on health care systems and hospitals to ensure that our healthcare professionals are allowed flexibility in employment arrangements and labor agreements so that they can render aid where it is needed."

Any health care provider in Minnesota that chooses to bring an out-of-state health care professional on staff must verify the person holds a relevant and active license or certification and would be qualified in Minnesota. The health care provider then has to file a report with the Minnesota Department of Health that includes the number of out-of-state workers who were brought on, each person’s license type and the length of their stay.

Any out-of-state workers would have to submit to Minnesota licensing board standards while working here, and those licensing boards have the authority to revoke their authorization at any time.

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Walz also stated that this emergency authorization is not intended to undermine Minnesota health care professionals’ collective bargaining rights.

However, the executive order drew the ire of the Minnesota Nurses Association, which claims nurses around the state who have been furloughed at hospitals and clinics have not been permitted to step in at other health care facilities where nurses are in need.

"It’s irresponsible of Minnesota hospitals to prefer that skilled nurses receive unemployment over working to create a simple solution that provides needed care for Minnesotans," the MNA stated in a news release.

The MNA called on state legislators to create a statewide pool of furloughed, unemployed and retired Minnesota nurses to fill spots as they are needed.

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