ST. PAUL – In an effort to protect our elderly and disabled from feeling the pain of Minnesota’s budget deficit, State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Watonwan County) co-signed a letter to Governor Tim Pawlenty urging him to avoid cuts to nursing homes, group homes, and day programs this session.
“We just have to protect our nursing homes and long-term care facilities from reductions, as they are critical components to our rural communities,” Torkelson said. “Some of the recent fiscal numbers show that we should be able to make this happen.”
Torkelson notes that Governor Pawlenty’s budget plan, which was originally based on the November forecast’s deficit $1.2 billion deficit, included a 2.5% cut – $37 .3 million – to home and community-based services for the disabled and elderly and nursing homes.
But with the latest projected deficit numbers totaling $209 million below the previous forecast, Torkelson thinks some of those funds should be used to buy back the discussed $37.3 million cut to these services.
Torkelson also attempted to prioritize rural nursing homes on the floor of the Minnesota House recently. He offered an amendment that would change reimbursement rates and move toward more equitable nursing home funding across Minnesota. Currently, rural nursing homes receive lower rates than their counterparts from the Metro Area.
“House Republicans have long made our nursing homes and long term care facilities a top priority, and this year is no different,” Torkelson said. “Our elderly and disabled residents, as well as those who assist them, should be spared from our budget reduction process.”