The Legislature and Governor Dayton sent mixed messages in the details of their HHS budget agreement. While the agreement does not cut nursing home rates in this biennium and provides a small amount of relief for a small number of nursing homes, it also repeals a critical payment reform measure adopted in 2007 that in practical terms will cut $133 million in promised payments to nursing homes starting in 2013.
The budget also includes significant cuts to cost-saving home and community-based services, while creating a new layer of government bureaucracy by making counseling with a government employee mandatory for all seniors seeking home and community-based care services, including seniors seeking care with their own private resources.
“This budget delivers mixed messages and mixed results for Minnesota seniors,” said Gayle Kvenvold, president and CEO of Aging Services of Minnesota. “While efforts were made to shield some seniors from the most drastic cuts, this budget also includes disturbing policy changes and cuts that will seriously impact seniors who need access to a full continuum of care options and deserve the freedom to make their own choices.”
Key Elements of HHS Budget
- Elimination of $133 million in promised payments to nursing homes as a result of repealing rebasing legislation passed in 2007.
- $17 million in cuts to Elderly Waiver programs, which are cost-effective programs that save the state as much as $275 million per year by keeping seniors in their home communities and out of higher-cost care settings. This represents the third consecutive year of cuts to these critical services.
- $4.4 million in reductions to specific rate components for nursing homes and
- $1.2 million increase for the lowest-rate nursing homes in the state (approx. 70 out of 384 nursing homes will receive up to 2.45 percent increase)
- Mandatory counseling with a government employee for all seniors seeking home
and community-based care.
Two of the most significant and concerning elements of the HHS budget – repeal of rebasing and mandatory transition counseling for all seniors – were never discussed publicly during the legislative session.
“Starting today, we will continue our work with Governor Dayton, legislators and other
Minnesota leaders to advance reforms that will create more choice, cost-savings and greater access to care for seniors than ever before,” said Kvenvold. “We will miss an historic opportunity if we do not find ways to transform and align our system of care to meet the needs of Minnesota’s growing population of seniors.”