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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Monday, April 22, 2013

ST. PAUL – State Representative Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent) and State Senator Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) said they will support legislation designed to give nursing homes, group homes and long term care facilities – and their employees - a long overdue pay raise.

“It’s nonsensical to think that after proposing $2.6 billion in tax increases that will impact every hardworking Minnesotan, House Democrats want to cut nursing homes and senior living by $26 million over the next two years,” Swedzinski said.  “To me and many of my rural Republican colleagues this move is unacceptable, and we are going to try our best to right this wrong.”

Swedzinski, Dahms, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers were under the impression that nursing homes and long term care facilities would receive a $56 million increase this year.  Instead, the House Democrats’ health and human services bill buys a $21 million rate increase by raiding $26 million from other nursing home funds. This means nursing homes and senior living facilities will have to absorb these cuts in their own budgets to make up the difference, which will be particularly damaging to Greater Minnesota.

In the Senate, a similar raid on nursing home funds is included in the HHS Omnibus bill. Dahms and others expected a 5 percent increase for long term care facilities but the Senate bill only offers a 2 percent increase, leaving nursing homes and senior living facilities to make difficult cuts in their budgets.

“Nursing homes have been tightening their belts all along, which is why they consistently spend less than what is forecasted,” Dahms said. “Here’s the reality: people don’t stop aging, and we need to do what we can to help the Greatest Generation in a way that’s efficient, effective, and sustainable.”

Swedzinski said he and others will push for real funding increases for nursing homes when a comprehensive health and human services finance proposal is debated on the House floor in the coming days.

“The facilities that care for our elderly and developmentally disabled are among our top employers, and many won’t be able to stay open if these cuts are approved,” Dahms said.  “With this proposal, Twin Cities lawmakers are sending a clear message that nursing homes and senior care centers in Greater Minnesota are not valued and not a priority. Democrats have found money to fund dozens of wasteful government programs this session yet they refuse to adequately fund our nursing homes.”