This past week, we were privileged to join with 300 other senior living providers at the Minnesota state Capitol as we visited with our state representatives. Visiting from Welcome Home were Linda Beyers, RN and Trincy Faas, Director of Resident Services at Potter Ridge Assisted Living from Red Wing, Minnesota; Loree Besser, Director of Resident Services at Excelsior Place Assisted Living from Baxter, Minnesota; and Roman Bloemke, Director of Operations from Welcome Home Health Care from Hutchinson, Minnesota.
At the heart of our meeting were the proposed changes to the Elderly Waiver program and its impact on our residents, our team members, and to the overall local economy.
Currently, nursing homes and assisted living providers infuse $6.7 billion in to Minnesota’s economy and support nearly 113,000 jobs. Discussions of older adult services tend to focus on the cost side of the financial equation. But the fact is nursing homes and assisted living establishments make significant, measurable, and vital contributions to the state and local economies while providing critical services to our aging population. Nursing homes and assisted living communities are often the largest employers in rural Minnesota.
At Welcome Home, we employ 246 people in our rural Minnesota properties who take great care of our residents and their families. Our communities care for 200 residents who use the Minnesota Elderly Waiver program.
Elderly Waiver Cannot Afford Funding Cuts
The Elderly Waiver program is a cost effective alternative to nursing homes. The Long-Term Care Imperative estimates the Elderly Waiver program saved the state of Minnesota $275 million by ensuring that seniors are serve in the most cost-effective means appropriate to the individual, reserving nursing homes for use by those who truly need that level of care. The state can serve three seniors through the Elderly Waiver program for every senior served in a care center.
The Elderly Waiver Customized Living program has experienced double-digit cuts in the last biennium through legislative and administrative action. For example, the service rate limits for 24 hour Customized Living are below the 2005 level, and the Customized Living service rate limits are only 1% above 2005 levels.
Cutting Elderly Waiver at a time when demand for older adult services is increasing will only drive up state costs, as more people will be forced in to nursing homes.
In rural areas, and in lo income buildings, the cuts to Elderly Waiver will have an even greater impact and may create problems for low income seniors in accessing the care they need.
All three budget proposals (House, Senate, and Governor’s proposed budgets) cut the Elderly Waiver program. While we understand the budget issues that face the state, the cuts and changes, we also know that these changes affect people, residents and staff, in a real way.
If you’d like to have your voice heard, Aging Services of Minnesota is organizing a rally at the Minnesota state Capitol for May 3rd at 1:30pm. For more information on senior living visit Aging Services of Minnesota on the web at www.agingservicesmn.org.