However, this entire budget proposal is banking on one-time money that may be extended to the State of Minnesota through President Obama’s stimulus plan. This extension has not yet been passed into law. If it is not passed, Governor Pawlenty will need to locate additional cuts to Minnesota programs will be required to balance the State’s budget.
The budget is now in the hand of the legislators in Minnesota to solve the budget deficit. It is expected that the budget will be the main focus of this legislative session.
With our history of serving residents of all income levels through the Elderly Waiver program, this cut will again put a strain on our annual budgets. Normally, when the State grants Elderly Waiver providers an increase, we are mandated to give those funds to our employees in equal, hourly increases. And last year, when Governor Pawlenty reversed the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 2.5% that was implemented on October 1, 2008 (reversed by the Governor through unallotment on July 1, 2009), providers were allowed to reduce the employees’ hourly wages by the amount of the reduction.
Welcome Home did not cut any wages. We maintained with our employees that they would continue to receive the wages as they had received in the COLA increase. This year, although likely that providers will be offered the same remedy, our plan is to continue to offer our employees a fair wage for the work that they perform every day. However, to do so means that we will again work to tighten our budgets in other ways. For example, we will be asking for our resident’s help during winter months to keep their windows closed and locked to reduce our energy costs. We will continue to work with our vendors to find the best prices for our supplies. And we will work with our employees to find more ways that we can work to reduce of our budget obligations, all while maintaining a healthy work environment and a wonderful living environment for our residents.
Governor Pawlenty has a plan to reduce the budget deficit in Minnesota, whether citizens of Minnesota like it or not. Given the expected reductions in our waiver funding, and our long term plan to continue servicing residents of all income levels, we must plan for our future. We will be working hard over the year to find ways that we can become more efficient, more effective in our everyday lives that maintains the quality of services that we provide to our residents.
In the meantime, residents, families and team members in the communities should continue to advocate to their representatives the importance of funding for health and human services, specifically the Medicaid program (Elderly Waiver). Ask the Director of Resident Services at your community or contact us at Welcome Home Health Care for ideas on how to approach your representative. You can also watch our interview with Representative Brod and Kari Thurlow of Aging Services of Minnesota to get ideas. You can find those interviews on our “Live Events” tab at www.wtohdevelopment.com.