Next week the House is expected to take up the Health and Human Services omnibus bill. Included in the bill, which spends approximately $11 billion dollars for the 2014-2015 biennium, is a net $26 million dollar cut from the baseline to our nursing homes and senior living centers. I am concerned about the potential impacts this may have on our nursing homes in Morrison and Todd County.
Senior Care facilities provide countless jobs for people in our district and around the state. In District 9B, as an industry, it is one of the top five employers. These are the workers that care for the Greatest Generation; our parents, grandparents, siblings, and relatives. Over 115 nursing homes across the state are at risk of closing this year, up from 85 last year, many of which are in Greater Minnesota. With nearly $3 billion dollars in tax and fee increases included in this budget proposal, I believe it is unacceptable that we can’t find the small amount of funding it would take to fully fund our nursing homes at current levels.
While there is "technically" an overall increase included, it does not fully fund our nursing homes under current law at a level that would allow them to maintain current services. Worse, much of the funding comes from raiding certain funds and shifting other nursing home funds around.
I have spoken with the nursing homes and senior care centers in our district, and other providers have testified in committee saying they would prefer that current law stay the same, rather than making the changes proposed in the Health and Human Services omnibus bill.
I firmly believe that budgets are about priorities. With such large tax increases being proposed by the majority, I believe it’s imperative that we fully fund our nursing homes and senior care centers. There is arguably no higher priority than ensuring the facilities that care for our seniors can stay open and continue to provide care. Are seniors simply cannot continue to wait for the next budget cycle.
We anticipate to be in session nearly every day for the next few weeks as we debate and pass the 2014-2015 biennium budget bills. If you have any input to share on any of the budget bills, or any of the bills here at the legislature, I hope you'll contact me. If you plan to be in Saint Paul, I hope you'll contact me office to schedule a meeting. Otherwise, please send your comments via email to email@example.com or call my office at 651-296-4247.
Your input is helpful, and helps me better represent your voices here at the Capitol.
Have a great weekend,
State Representative, District 9B