Erickson upset about postponement of nursing-care bill

Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton)invited three of her constituents to come back to a House committee meeting Tuesday, March 12. Due to a time crunch, the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee was unable to hear testimony on Erickson’s Princeton nursing home bill. Erickson, far right, is shown with her witnesses: Teresa Gerth, nursing assistant at Elim Care & Rehab Center; James Gibson, resident at Elim, and Todd Lundeen, campus administrator.

Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton)invited three of her constituents to come back to a House committee meeting Tuesday, March 12. Due to a time crunch, the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee was unable to hear testimony on Erickson’s Princeton nursing home bill. Erickson, far right, is shown with her witnesses: Teresa Gerth, nursing assistant at Elim Care & Rehab Center; James Gibson, resident at Elim, and Todd Lundeen, campus administrator.

ST. PAUL — Rep. Sondra Erickson (R- Princeton),was visibly upset when Thomas Huntley, chair of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee,  adjourned a committee meeting Thursday morning, March 7, without hearing her bill on a nursing-facility rate increase for the Elim Care & Rehab Center in Princeton.
Five bills were on the agenda for the House committee on Thursday and only three of them were heard. Two pertained to homelessness and were heard before a packed committee room of the State Office Building in St. Paul.
As the hour reached 11:30 a.m., Huntley (D- Duluth), said the other two bills would be delayed to another date because the committee room was scheduled at 11:30 for the House Jobs and Economic Development Finance & Policy Committee.
“This is very sad,” Erickson remarked as she informed her three witnesses that they would need to reappear at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 12 at the State Office Building.
Asked if this situation happened often, Erickson said, “It didn’t happen when I was chair.”  Last session, she chaired the Education Policy Committee.
Erickson said she always assessed the time frame and distance traveled by witnesses when leading her committee meetings.
“‘I was all hyped up’ to testify”, said Elim Home resident James Gibson.. Also scheduled to testify were Todd Lundeen, campus administrator at Elim, and Teresa Gerth, nursing assistant at Elim.
The bill, House File 375, would increase the reimbursement rate for Elim. If passed, the legislation would move Elim into a reimbursement group with neighboring Benton, Stearns and Sherburne counties. An increase in reimbursement thus would affect the wages of Elim employees and give them a more competitive wage, Erickson said.
This legislation was carried unsuccessfully in the past. “We are taking baby steps with this bill,” Erickson said.
House File 375 provides an operating payment rate increase for the nursing facility in Princeton.
An overview of the bill reads: “Reimbursement rates are facility- and resident-specific. Rates vary with the facility’s historical costs, with the amount of care needed by a resident (as measured by a case-mix classification), and reflect any statutory facility-specific rate adjustments authorized by the Minnesota Legislature.”
With the legislation, nursing facilities will receive higher levels of reimbursement for residents who need more care and lower levels of reimbursement for residents who need less care. An incentive thus exists for nursing facilities to admit individuals who need more nursing care.
Nursing facilities are reimbursed by Medical Assistance on a resident-per-day basis. Reimbursement levels are adjusted under the Resource Utilization Groups (RUG) case-mix system to reflect varying care needs of residents. The RUG system classifies nursing facility residents into 48 groups.
The Elim facility has 113 beds. If the bill becomes law, the new rates will become effective Oct. 1, 2013.

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