Next week, the Health and Human Services bill is expected to come to the floor for debate. The proposal aims to spend approximately $11 billion in general fund money for the 2014-2015 biennium. One of the most disappointing and egregious aspects of the proposal is that it would cut nursing homes by $26 million from 2014-2015 baseline spending. This cut would have devastating effects, risking the closure of nursing homes in Greater Minnesota.
As of this year, there are 115 facilities that are at risk of closing, a large percentage of which are in Greater Minnesota. Using accounting shifts and gimmicks, the Democrats falsely claim that they are increasing funding to nursing homes.
What they aren’t telling you is that the so-called increase is paid for using unsustainable and unstable shifts and gimmicks and amounts to a $26 million cut from the 2014-2015 baseline under current law. That $26 million is needed to provide the current level of staff and services for our seniors. Without it, cuts will have to be made to already stretched-thin facilities.
Countless nursing homes have stated in committee and in conversations with many legislators in Greater Minnesota, that the nursing homes would be better off under the current budget passed by Republicans in 2011 than they would under the Democrats’ proposal.
Simply put, these reckless cuts to nursing homes reflect the misplaced priorities of the Democrats. Despite raising taxes by $2.6 billion, Democrats were somehow unable to fully fund and prioritize nursing homes and the workers that care for the Greatest Generation. Democrats are willing to spend tens of millions on wasteful spending projects in the Metro area, but are content to put dozens of nursing homes in Greater Minnesota at risk.
With billions of dollars in new spending and taxes, it’s time we prioritize our seniors and the workers that care for them. Democrat leaders should re-evaluate their spending plans and find the fraction of a percent of money that it would take to ensure that we aren’t putting nursing homes in Greater Minnesota at risk.
Sondra Erickson represents the Princeton area in District 15A in the Minnesota House.