(a) The commissioner, in consultation with the commissioner of health, may designate certain nursing facilities as critical access nursing facilities. The designation shall be granted on a competitive basis, within the limits of funds appropriated for this purpose.
(b) The commissioner shall request proposals from nursing facilities every two years. Proposals must be submitted in the form and according to the timelines established by the commissioner. In selecting applicants to designate, the commissioner, in consultation with the commissioner of health, and with input from stakeholders, shall develop criteria designed to preserve access to nursing facility services in isolated areas, rebalance long-term care, and improve quality. To the extent practicable, the commissioner shall ensure an even distribution of designations across the state.
(c) The commissioner shall allow the benefits in clauses (1) to (5) for nursing facilities designated as critical access nursing facilities:
(1) partial rebasing, with the commissioner allowing a designated facility operating payment rates being the sum of up to 60 percent of the operating payment rate determined in accordance with section 256R.21, subdivision 3, and at least 40 percent, with the sum of the two portions being equal to 100 percent, of the operating payment rate that would have been allowed had the facility not been designated. The commissioner may adjust these percentages by up to 20 percent and may approve a request for less than the amount allowed;
(2) enhanced payments for leave days. Notwithstanding section 256R.43, upon designation as a critical access nursing facility, the commissioner shall limit payment for leave days to 60 percent of that nursing facility's total payment rate for the involved resident, and shall allow this payment only when the occupancy of the nursing facility, inclusive of bed hold days, is equal to or greater than 90 percent;
(3) two designated critical access nursing facilities, with up to 100 beds in active service, may jointly apply to the commissioner of health for a waiver of Minnesota Rules, part 4658.0500, subpart 2, in order to jointly employ a director of nursing. The commissioner of health shall consider each waiver request independently based on the criteria under Minnesota Rules, part 4658.0040;
(4) the minimum threshold under section 256B.431, subdivision 15, paragraph (e), shall be 40 percent of the amount that would otherwise apply; and
(5) the quality-based rate limits under section 256R.23, subdivisions 5 to 7, apply to designated critical access nursing facilities.
(d) Designation of a critical access nursing facility is for a period of two years, after which the benefits allowed under paragraph (c) shall be removed. Designated facilities may apply for continued designation.
(e) This section is suspended and no state or federal funding shall be appropriated or allocated for the purposes of this section from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2019.