ST. PAUL – Legislation Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, authored to help bring funding equity to a local nursing home has been signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton.
Urdahl’s legislation will allow for flexibility in the state aid care facilities receive. Nursing homes currently receive state aid on a per-patient basis, with rates varying according to zones. Facilities like Hilltop Care Center in Watkins can be placed at a disadvantage since they lie near a funding border. Hilltop, in Meeker County, receives less aid than comparable centers down the road in Stearns County, a significant competitive hindrance.
Specifically, Urdahl's measure provides some grace for situations like the one in Watkins, allowing nursing facilities located within one quarter of a mile from a comparable facility in a higher aid zone to receive the higher rate. Urdahl said Hilltop’s case appears to be isolated in Minnesota. He also said Health and Human Services chair Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, credited a Hilltop delegation with providing convincing testimony during a House committee meeting.
“This was just a rare set of circumstances and I am pleased we were able to rectify this situation,” Urdahl said. “This disparity ultimately was threatening Hilltop’s ability to stay open and provide care for local residents. In addition, it is important to preserve Hilltop as a significant source of jobs in Watkins, with nearly 90 employees.”
The change Urdahl brought forth passed as part of a health and human services finance bill approved during a 12-hour special session which started Tuesday afternoon. Dayton approved the bill Wednesday morning as a package to set the state budget for the next two years.
Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, authored the companion legislation.