Hello from St. Paul, where another busy week is underway at the Capitol.
I'd first like to follow up on an issue I mentioned in a recent update regarding Gov. Mark Dayton's proposal to close the CARE rehabilitation facility in Fergus Falls. The governor proposes closing this operation in June of 2016. My effort is to get an extension on that date to assist in finding a new private operator to keep this 50-bed facility functioning.
Part of the reason an extension is necessary is because the federal government will be providing updated information regarding reimbursement rates, but we are not exactly sure when those figures will be available. A potential owner would be interested in taking that information into consideration.
I will keep you posted as discussions continue in an effort to find a solution and let's hope a private owner will emerge because CARE not only provides valuable services to patients, but provides jobs that benefit our local economy.
One of House majority’s top priorities this session is to make improvements in the long-term care area in general. Several bills have introduced to move us in the right direction. I am especially proud to have co-authored HF 3. Key provisions in that bill include:
Increasing the reimbursement rates for our nursing homes. assisted living and in home care providers, which will allow increasing the pay for our elder and disabled care workforce
Expanding health professional education loan forgiveness program to certain health care professionals who work in a nursing home or care facility for those with disabilities.
Expanding employee training scholarships to reimburse student loan expenses for recently hired and recently graduated nurses and licensed practical nurses.
Directing the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to better utilize existing programs to help train workers for and fill long-term care facility openings.
Creating a long-term care savings plan to encourage people to save for future long-term care costs. (Makes up to $1,000 per person, per year exempt from income tax)
Providing a credit for any penalty paid for early withdrawals from IRAs for long-term care costs.
Some final notes:
Many local residents continue visiting my office in St. Paul. Last week, I had an interesting discussion with wheat growers over the challenges they face. One thing is shipping issues related to clogged railways have been damaging to growers who are unable to get their harvest to market on time.
Congratulations to Tom Anderson, a funeral home director from Alexandria, for being confirmed by the Legislature as a University of Minnesota Regent.
Battle Lake junior Klarissa Walvatne served as a high school page last week at the Capitol. This program provides a great opportunity for students to attend meetings with legislators, assist members during the session, participate in mock committee sessions and more.
Thank you Pastor Wendell Johnson for serving as the House Chaplain last week. He is a well-known, long-time pastor who served the Dalton area. Wendell was succeeded by his son, Mark, at the Dalton Free Lutheran Parish.