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Chapter 13

Section 13.46

Recent History

13.46 Welfare data.

Subdivision 1. Definitions. As used in this section:

(a) "Individual" means an individual according to section 13.02, subdivision 8, but does not include a vendor of services.

(b) "Program" includes all programs for which authority is vested in a component of the welfare system according to statute or federal law, including, but not limited to, aid to families with dependent children, Minnesota family investment program-statewide, medical assistance, general assistance, general assistance medical care, and child support collections.

(c) "Welfare system" includes the department of human services, local social services agencies, county welfare agencies, the public authority responsible for child support enforcement, human services boards, community mental health center boards, state hospitals, state nursing homes, the ombudsman for mental health and mental retardation, and persons, agencies, institutions, organizations, and other entities under contract to any of the above agencies to the extent specified in the contract.

(d) "Mental health data" means data on individual clients and patients of community mental health centers, established under section 245.62, mental health divisions of counties and other providers under contract to deliver mental health services, or the ombudsman for mental health and mental retardation.

(e) "Fugitive felon" means a person who has been convicted of a felony and who has escaped from confinement or violated the terms of probation or parole for that offense.

Subd. 2. General. (a) Unless the data is summary data or a statute specifically provides a different classification, data on individuals collected, maintained, used, or disseminated by the welfare system is private data on individuals, and shall not be disclosed except:

(1) according to section 13.05;

(2) according to court order;

(3) according to a statute specifically authorizing access to the private data;

(4) to an agent of the welfare system, including a law enforcement person, attorney, or investigator acting for it in the investigation or prosecution of a criminal or civil proceeding relating to the administration of a program;

(5) to personnel of the welfare system who require the data to determine eligibility, amount of assistance, and the need to provide services of additional programs to the individual;

(6) to administer federal funds or programs;

(7) between personnel of the welfare system working in the same program;

(8) the amounts of cash public assistance and relief paid to welfare recipients in this state, including their names, social security numbers, income, addresses, and other data as required, upon request by the department of revenue to administer the property tax refund law, supplemental housing allowance, early refund of refundable tax credits, and the income tax. "Refundable tax credits" means the dependent care credit under section 290.067, the Minnesota working family credit under section 290.0671, the property tax refund under section 290A.04, and, if the required federal waiver or waivers are granted, the federal earned income tax credit under section 32 of the Internal Revenue Code;

(9) to the Minnesota department of economic security for the purpose of monitoring the eligibility of the data subject for reemployment insurance, for any employment or training program administered, supervised, or certified by that agency, or for the purpose of administering any rehabilitation program, whether alone or in conjunction with the welfare system, and to verify receipt of energy assistance for the telephone assistance plan;

(10) to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the individual or other individuals or persons;

(11) data maintained by residential programs as defined in section 245A.02 may be disclosed to the protection and advocacy system established in this state according to Part C of Public Law Number 98-527 to protect the legal and human rights of persons with mental retardation or other related conditions who live in residential facilities for these persons if the protection and advocacy system receives a complaint by or on behalf of that person and the person does not have a legal guardian or the state or a designee of the state is the legal guardian of the person;

(12) to the county medical examiner or the county coroner for identifying or locating relatives or friends of a deceased person;

(13) data on a child support obligor who makes payments to the public agency may be disclosed to the higher education services office to the extent necessary to determine eligibility under section 136A.121, subdivision 2, clause (5);

(14) participant social security numbers and names collected by the telephone assistance program may be disclosed to the department of revenue to conduct an electronic data match with the property tax refund database to determine eligibility under section 237.70, subdivision 4a;

(15) the current address of a recipient of aid to families with dependent children or Minnesota family investment program-statewide may be disclosed to law enforcement officers who provide the name of the recipient and notify the agency that:

(i) the recipient:

(A) is a fugitive felon fleeing to avoid prosecution, or custody or confinement after conviction, for a crime or attempt to commit a crime that is a felony under the laws of the jurisdiction from which the individual is fleeing; or

(B) is violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under state or federal law;

(ii) the location or apprehension of the felon is within the law enforcement officer's official duties; and

(iii) the request is made in writing and in the proper exercise of those duties;

(16) the current address of a recipient of general assistance or general assistance medical care may be disclosed to probation officers and corrections agents who are supervising the recipient and to law enforcement officers who are investigating the recipient in connection with a felony level offense;

(17) information obtained from food stamp applicant or recipient households may be disclosed to local, state, or federal law enforcement officials, upon their written request, for the purpose of investigating an alleged violation of the Food Stamp Act, according to Code of Federal Regulations, title 7, section 272.1(c);

(18) the address, social security number, and, if available, photograph of any member of a household receiving food stamps shall be made available, on request, to a local, state, or federal law enforcement officer if the officer furnishes the agency with the name of the member and notifies the agency that:

(i) the member:

(A) is fleeing to avoid prosecution, or custody or confinement after conviction, for a crime or attempt to commit a crime that is a felony in the jurisdiction the member is fleeing;

(B) is violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under state or federal law; or

(C) has information that is necessary for the officer to conduct an official duty related to conduct described in subitem (A) or (B);

(ii) locating or apprehending the member is within the officer's official duties; and

(iii) the request is made in writing and in the proper exercise of the officer's official duty;

(19) certain information regarding child support obligors who are in arrears may be made public according to section 518.575;

(20) data on child support payments made by a child support obligor, data on the enforcement actions undertaken by the public authority and the status of those actions, and data on the income of the obligor or obligee may be disclosed to the other party;

(21) data in the work reporting system may be disclosed under section 256.998, subdivision 7;

(22) to the department of children, families, and learning for the purpose of matching department of children, families, and learning student data with public assistance data to determine students eligible for free and reduced price meals, meal supplements, and free milk according to United States Code, title 42, sections 1758, 1761, 1766, 1766a, 1772, and 1773; to produce accurate numbers of students receiving aid to families with dependent children or Minnesota family investment program-statewide as required by section 124.175; and to allocate federal and state funds that are distributed based on income of the student's family;

(23) the current address and telephone number of program recipients and emergency contacts may be released to the commissioner of health or a local board of health as defined in section 145A.02, subdivision 2, when the commissioner or local board of health has reason to believe that a program recipient is a disease case, carrier, suspect case, or at risk of illness, and the data are necessary to locate the person; or

(24) to other state agencies, statewide systems, and political subdivisions of this state, including the attorney general, and agencies of other states, interstate information networks, federal agencies, and other entities as required by federal regulation or law for the administration of the child support enforcement program.

(b) Information on persons who have been treated for drug or alcohol abuse may only be disclosed according to the requirements of Code of Federal Regulations, title 42, sections 2.1 to 2.67.

(c) Data provided to law enforcement agencies under paragraph (a), clause (15), (16), (17), or (18), or paragraph (b), are investigative data and are confidential or protected nonpublic while the investigation is active. The data are private after the investigation becomes inactive under section 13.82, subdivision 5, paragraph (a) or (b).

(d) Mental health data shall be treated as provided in subdivisions 7, 8, and 9, but is not subject to the access provisions of subdivision 10, paragraph (b).

Subd. 3. Investigative data. Data on persons, including data on vendors of services and data on licensees, that is collected, maintained, used, or disseminated by the welfare system in an investigation, authorized by statute and relating to the enforcement of rules or law, is confidential data on individuals pursuant to section 13.02, subdivision 3, or protected nonpublic data not on individuals pursuant to section 13.02, subdivision 13, and shall not be disclosed except:

(a) pursuant to section 13.05;

(b) pursuant to statute or valid court order;

(c) to a party named in a civil or criminal proceeding, administrative or judicial, for preparation of defense; or

(d) to provide notices required or permitted by statute.

The data referred to in this subdivision shall be classified as public data upon its submission to an administrative law judge or court in an administrative or judicial proceeding. Inactive welfare investigative data shall be treated as provided in section 13.39, subdivision 3.

Subd. 4. Licensing data. (a) As used in this subdivision:

(1) "licensing data" means all data collected, maintained, used, or disseminated by the welfare system pertaining to persons licensed or registered or who apply for licensure or registration or who formerly were licensed or registered under the authority of the commissioner of human services;

(2) "client" means a person who is receiving services from a licensee or from an applicant for licensure; and

(3) "personal and personal financial data" means social security numbers, identity of and letters of reference, insurance information, reports from the bureau of criminal apprehension, health examination reports, and social/home studies.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (c), the following data on current and former licensees are public: name, address, telephone number of licensees, licensed capacity, type of client preferred, variances granted, type of dwelling, name and relationship of other family members, previous license history, class of license, and the existence and status of complaints. When disciplinary action has been taken against a licensee or the complaint is resolved, the following data are public: the substance of the complaint, the findings of the investigation of the complaint, the record of informal resolution of a licensing violation, orders of hearing, findings of fact, conclusions of law, and specifications of the final disciplinary action contained in the record of disciplinary action.

The following data on persons subject to disqualification under section 245A.04 in connection with a license to provide family day care for children, child care center services, foster care for children in the provider's home, or foster care or day care services for adults in the provider's home, are public: the nature of any disqualification set aside under section 245A.04, subdivision 3b, and the reasons for setting aside the disqualification; and the reasons for granting any variance under section 245A.04, subdivision 9.

(c) The following are private data on individuals under section 13.02, subdivision 12, or nonpublic data under section 13.02, subdivision 9: personal and personal financial data on family day care program and family foster care program applicants and licensees and their family members who provide services under the license.

(d) The following are private data on individuals: the identity of persons who have made reports concerning licensees or applicants that appear in inactive investigative data, and the records of clients or employees of the licensee or applicant for licensure whose records are received by the licensing agency for purposes of review or in anticipation of a contested matter. The names of reporters under sections 626.556 and 626.557 may be disclosed only as provided in section 626.556, subdivision 11, or 626.557, subdivision 12b.

(e) Data classified as private, confidential, nonpublic, or protected nonpublic under this subdivision become public data if submitted to a court or administrative law judge as part of a disciplinary proceeding in which there is a public hearing concerning the disciplinary action.

(f) Data generated in the course of licensing investigations that relate to an alleged violation of law are investigative data under subdivision 3.

(g) Data that are not public data collected, maintained, used, or disseminated under this subdivision that relate to or are derived from a report as defined in section 626.556, subdivision 2, are subject to the destruction provisions of section 626.556, subdivision 11.

Subd. 5. Medical data; contracts. Data relating to the medical, psychiatric, or mental health of any individual, including diagnosis, progress charts, treatment received, case histories, and opinions of health care providers, that is collected, maintained, used, or disseminated by any agency to the welfare system is private data on individuals and will be available to the data subject, unless the private health care provider has clearly requested in writing that the data be withheld pursuant to section 144.335. Data on individuals that is collected, maintained, used, or disseminated by a private health care provider under contract to any agency of the welfare system is private data on individuals, and is subject to the provisions of sections 13.02 to 13.07 and this section, except that the provisions of section 13.04, subdivision 3, shall not apply. Access to medical data referred to in this subdivision by the individual who is the subject of the data is subject to the provisions of section 144.335. Access to information that is maintained by the public authority responsible for support enforcement and that is needed to enforce medical support is subject to the provisions of section 518.171.

Subd. 6. Other data. Data collected, used, maintained, or disseminated by the welfare system that is not data on individuals is public pursuant to section 13.03, except the following data:

(a) investigative data classified by section 13.39;

(b) welfare investigative data classified by section 13.46, subdivision 3; and

(c) security information classified by section 13.37, subdivision 2.

Subd. 7. Mental health center data. (a) Mental health data are private data on individuals and shall not be disclosed, except:

(1) pursuant to section 13.05, as determined by the responsible authority for the community mental health center, mental health division, or provider;

(2) pursuant to court order;

(3) pursuant to a statute specifically authorizing access to or disclosure of mental health data; or

(4) with the consent of the client or patient.

(b) An agency of the welfare system may not require an individual to consent to the release of mental health data as a condition for receiving services or for reimbursing a community mental health center, mental health division of a county, or provider under contract to deliver mental health services.

Subd. 8. Access for auditing. To the extent required by state or federal law, representatives of federal, state, or local agencies shall have access to data maintained by public or private community mental health centers, mental health divisions of counties, and other providers under contract to deliver mental health services which is necessary to achieve the purpose of auditing. Public or private community mental health centers, mental health divisions of counties, and other providers under contract to deliver mental health services shall not permit this data to identify any particular patient or client by name or contain any other unique personal identifier, except data provided to the legislative auditor. Notwithstanding any statute or rule to the contrary, and solely for the purposes of conducting an audit approved by the legislative audit commission in 1988, the legislative auditor shall be given access to all data, records, and files classified as not public. The legislative auditor shall maintain all data collected under this subdivision in accordance with chapter 13 and may not disclose data that identify a patient or client by name or that contain any other personal identifier.

Subd. 9. Fraud. In cases of suspected fraud, in which access to mental health data maintained by public or private community mental health centers or mental health divisions of counties and other providers under contract to deliver mental health services is necessary to a proper investigation, the county board or the appropriate prosecutorial authority shall refer the matter to the commissioner of human services. The commissioner and agents of the commissioner, while maintaining the privacy rights of individuals and families, shall have access to mental health data to conduct an investigation. Upon deeming it appropriate as a result of the investigation, the commissioner shall refer the matter to the appropriate legal authorities and may disseminate to those authorities whatever mental health data are necessary to properly prosecute the case.

Subd. 10. Responsible authority. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter to the contrary, the responsible authority for each component of the welfare system listed in subdivision 1, clause (c), shall be as follows:

(1) the responsible authority for the department of human services, state hospitals, and nursing homes is the commissioner of the department of human services;

(2) the responsible authority of a county welfare agency is the director of the county welfare agency;

(3) the responsible authority for a local social services agency, human services board, or community mental health center board is the chair of the board;

(4) the responsible authority of any person, agency, institution, organization, or other entity under contract to any of the components of the welfare system listed in subdivision 1, clause (c), is the person specified in the contract; and

(5) the responsible authority of the public authority for child support enforcement is the head of the public authority for child support enforcement.

(b) A responsible authority shall allow another responsible authority in the welfare system access to data classified as not public data when access is necessary for the administration and management of programs, or as authorized or required by statute or federal law.

Subd. 11. Nursing home appraisals. Names, addresses, and other data that could identify nursing homes selected as part of a random sample to be appraised by the department of human services in its rate setting process are classified as protected nonpublic data until the sample has been completed.

HIST: 1979 c 328 s 15; 1980 c 603 s 23; 1980 c 615 s 34; 1981 c 311 s 39; 1982 c 545 s 8,24; 1983 c 15 s 1; 1983 c 312 art 8 s 1; 1984 c 436 s 19-24; 1984 c 579 s 1-5; 1984 c 640 s 32; 1984 c 654 art 5 s 58; 1985 c 293 s 1,2; 1985 c 298 s 13-17; 1986 c 337 s 1; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 333 s 22; 1987 c 351 s 8-11; 1987 c 352 s 1; 1988 c 598 s 3; 1989 c 209 art 1 s 4; art 2 s 2; 1989 c 282 art 5 s 1; 1989 c 351 s 6; 1990 c 568 art 3 s 1; 1990 c 573 s 6,7; 1991 c 292 art 5 s 1; 1993 c 171 s 1; 1993 c 351 s 8-10; 1994 c 483 s 1; 1994 c 488 s 8; 1994 c 618 art 1 s 10,11; 1994 c 630 art 11 s 2; 1994 c 631 s 31; 1994 c 636 art 4 s 2; 1995 c 178 art 3 s 1; 1995 c 212 art 3 s 59; 1995 c 229 art 4 s 1; 1995 c 257 art 1 s 1; 1995 c 259 art 1 s 10-12; 1996 c 412 art 1 s 1; 1996 c 440 art 1 s 13; 1997 c 85 art 4 s 1,2; 1997 c 203 art 6 s 1; 1Sp1997 c 3 s 5