Join our mailing list to receive the latest updates and alerts Flag Subscribe

Many changes to Minnesota’s health care laws were signed into law by Governor Walz in the 2024 legislative session that ended in May. Here is an overview of several of the key changes and new laws. Please contact your Fredrikson attorney for more information.

Medical Debt Reforms

Effective October 1, 2024, health care providers (defined below) must comply with the Minnesota Debt Fairness Act. Among other things, the Act:

  • requires health care providers to adopt and publish medical debt collection policies;
  • prohibits health care providers from denying medically necessary care (which is defined very broadly) due to unpaid medical debt;
  • prohibits health care providers from engaging in certain debt collection practices and from reporting medical debt to consumer reporting agencies; and
  • requires health care providers to follow certain procedures and deliver certain notices to patients in connection with potential billing errors.

“Health care providers” include licensed health professionals, group practices and hospitals. However, health care facilities that are technically not “health care providers” should still be prepared to adopt and publish compliant medical debt collection policies on their websites and to ensure they are actually following such policies in practice, since the individual practitioners practicing at such facilities will need to comply with the Act.

Changes to Significance of Prior Authorizations

Effective January 1, 2026, health carriers will be prohibited from:

  • retrospectively denying or limiting coverage of a health care service for which prior authorization was not required by the health carrier, unless there is evidence that the service was provided based on fraud or misinformation;
  • denying or limiting coverage of a health care service which the enrollee has already received solely on the basis of lack of prior authorization; and
  • requiring prior authorization for various types of non-emergency services.

More Stringent Standards for Release of Patient Health Records

Effective immediately, the Minnesota Health Records Act must be construed to protect the privacy of patient health records in a more stringent manner than the federal HIPAA rules.

This is a direct legislative response to the Minnesota Supreme Court’s controversial 2023 opinion in Schneider v. Children’s Health Care, which held that the phrase “specific authorization in law” included federal law in addition to Minnesota law. The effect of the Schneider ruling was to permit disclosure of Minnesota health records by Minnesota providers at any time that HIPAA allowed a disclosure. With the new law, the Legislature returned to the pre-Schneider interpretation – i.e., that a Minnesota health care provider can disclose health records only with a patient’s written consent or other specific authorization under Minnesota (not federal) law.

This new law brings significant practical consequences to providers who had moved away from obtaining patient consent for “treatment, payment or health care operations.” Also, any Notice of Privacy Practices revised to reflect Schneider will need to be revised — again.

More Stringent Hospital Closure Requirements; Right of First Refusal

Effective January 1, 2025, more stringent notice requirements will apply prior to a hospital’s ceasing operations, curtailing operations or relocating services:

  • The required notice must be delivered at least 182 days before the triggering event (an increase from 120 days).
  • The public hearing following such notice must be held within 30 days (a decrease from 45 days) and incorporate video conferencing technology.
  • Failure to provide the required notice or engage in the public hearing will result in fines ranging from $20,000 to $60,000. Notably, such fines will be levied on the hospital’s “controlling persons” (i.e., board members and executive officers).

Separately, prior to any sale or offer to sell a hospital, the hospital must be offered to a local unit of government at fair market value. The applicable local unit of government must accept or decline any such offer within 60 days of receipt.

Expanded Insurance Coverage of Abortions and Reproductive Health-Related Services

Effective January 1, 2025, Minnesota law will require (subject to religious-based exceptions) expanded insurance coverage of abortions, abortion-related services and gender affirming care:

  • Health plans must cover such services without imposing greater cost-sharing or other limitations for coverage compared to other coverages under the plan.
  • Minnesota Medical Assistance also must cover such services.

Expanded Insurance Coverage of Orthotics and Prosthetics

Effective January 1, 2025, Minnesota law will also require expanded insurance coverage of orthotic and prosthetic devices, supplies and services:

  • Health plans must cover such devices, supplies and services to the same extent as Medicare.
  • Minnesota Medical Assistance also must cover such devices, supplies and services.

Expanded Access to Designated Support Person

Effective July 1, 2024, health care providers and health care facilities must allow at least one “designated support person” to be physically present while a patient (defined below) is receiving health care services, an expansion of a right under the Minnesota Health Care Bill of Rights that was previously limited to pregnant patients.

For purposes of the applicable section of the Minnesota Health Care Bill of Rights, a “patient” means: (1) a person who is admitted to an acute care inpatient facility for more than 24 hours; (2) a minor who is admitted to a residential program; and (3) a person who is receiving mental health treatment on an outpatient basis or in a community-based program.

We hope you find this brief article helpful. Feel free to contact Sean Nagle, Marielos Cabrera, Geoff Koslig or any member of our Health Law Group with questions about how the recent changes to Minnesota’s health care laws will affect you.

Jump to Page

Necessary Cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytical Cookies

Analytical cookies help us improve our website by collecting and reporting information on its usage. We access and process information from these cookies at an aggregate level.