Representative Anderson: House bill shorts long-term care
April 27, 2023
House Democrats approved a bill on Tuesday, April 25 which Representative Paul Anderson of Starbuck said does not address the long-term care crisis in our state and severely underfunds this portion of the state budget.
Anderson said he has concerns over the House Human Services Finance omnibus package (S.F. 2934) for its lack of funding for nursing homes, which came to the floor accounting for just .01 percent of the Democrats' $72 billion budget proposal that consumes the state's $19 billion surplus and increases state General Fund spending by 40 percent.
"Nursing homes provide 24/7 care for our elderly residents and the rates charged by nursing homes are totally dependent on state reimbursement rates," Anderson said. "The pandemic and inflation have posed significant challenges to nursing home operations and they are finding it difficult to attract and keep workers. With our huge state surplus in mind, not providing significant financial help to those providing long-term care is a travesty."
Meanwhile, Anderson said Minnesota is in the midst of a "silver tsunami," with more than 1.3 million state residents aged 65 or older. As these residents age, he said, their need for care grows and it is unfortunate to see Minnesota is not keeping up with these needs.
Anderson indicated 2,597 nursing home beds have been taken out of service in Minnesota since 2020, the equivalent of shuttering 52, 50-bed homes. The long-term care industry in Minnesota, he said, currently is operating with a worker shortage of 53,000 and that, in the month of October alone, 11,000 elderly residents were turned away from nursing homes – largely due to lack of staff.
Anderson said the inability to fully staff our nursing homes then places added strains on hospitals, with nearly 20 percent of their bed space taken up by people who could be better served recovering in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
"As with the vast majority of other finance bills that have passed the House this session, we remain hopeful a conference committee will make significant improvements before this comes back for a vote on final passage," Anderson said. "People relying on long-term care, and the workers who do good work providing much-needed services, deserve better than this bill provides."