I wanted to share with you a column I've submitted to our local papers that is set to appear in this week's edition of the Waseca County News. It's in regards to the $26 million dollar cut in baseline funding for our nursing homes and senior care centers that could have potentially devastating impacts in Greater Minnesota.
I was proud to stand side by side with more than two dozen other members of the Rural Caucus to call on the majority to fully fund the promises made under the last biennium budget to our seniors.
This is an important issue, and I believe with nearly $3 billion dollars in revenue increases, we need to make sure that these senior care centers are fully funded. I will continue to work with Representatives from both parties to find ways to fund our commitment and prevent potentially damaging cuts.
Have a great week,
State Representative, District 24A
Cuts would damage Greater Minnesota nursing homes
Rep. John Petersburg, District 24A
One of the most surprising parts of the majority’s Health and Human Services budget proposal was a $26 million dollar cut to the baseline 2014-2015 biennium budget for nursing homes and long-term care workers in the midst of a proposed $2.6 billion tax increase. I have deep concerns about the impacts these proposed cuts will have on nursing homes and senior care centers in Greater Minnesota.
Since 2000, more than 63 nursing homes in Minnesota have had to close permanently. The impact of these closings is immeasurable. When a nursing home or senior care center closes, seniors – our parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters – are forced out of the comfort of their care centers, away from familiar surroundings, family, and friends.
The impact of closings is even more drastic in Greater Minnesota, where seniors in centers affected by closings could be forced to move miles away from their family members, out of their communities entirely due to the fact that nursing homes and senior care centers are so few and far between in the rural areas of our state.
Last year, there were 85 centers at risk of closure. This year, that number has jumped to 115, many of which are located in Greater Minnesota. Numerous senior care providers have said privately in conversations with both local legislators and in committee that they would be better off with no change to current law than under the proposed budget.
With $2.6 billion dollars in tax increases, and approximately $600 million dollars in fees being proposed on hardworking taxpayers, I believe it is simply unacceptable that there be any cuts whatsoever to nursing homes and long-term care workers.
Worse, there are tens of millions of dollars in wasteful spending items in the proposed budget areas. The cuts to the nursing homes and senior care centers are not due to a lack of available tax dollars. I believe budgets are about priorities, and it should be a point of bipartisan agreement that we should be fully funding care centers for the Greatest Generation, a generation that will outnumber the K-12 population by 2020. With these demographics, these cuts need to be reversed, and this trend cannot continue.
It’s irresponsible to risk further senior care and nursing home closures or staff cuts to facilities that are already stretched thin, and it’s imperative that we find the money in the budget to prevent these potentially devastating cuts by funding our nursing homes at the baseline level for 2014-2015.
Your voice does make a difference in St. Paul and I urge you to contact legislators and ask them to support adequate funding for our nursing homes and long-term care workers. It’s the least we can do for the Greatest Generation, and it’s simply the right thing to do. I will continue to work with any legislator – Democrat or Republican – on finding ways to restore this funding and prevent these misguided budget cuts.