Local view: Services for seniors deserve more moneyWhen the governor and Legislature propose cuts to assisted living and home-care services, they need to understand they are taking away the independence of seniors who rely upon these programs.
By: Karie Simpson, Duluth News Tribune
When the governor and Legislature propose cuts to assisted living and home-care services, they need to understand they are taking away the independence of seniors who rely upon these programs.
In the past few years, home health-care services in Minnesota have received double-digit legislative and administrative budget cuts. As a result, access to these services is limited, and seniors increasingly are left with two options: get by without the care they need or move into a nursing home.
Minnesota has led the nation in moving individuals out of high-cost settings by providing services in the home. However, cuts to home health care will force seniors back into higher-cost settings such as hospitals and nursing homes.
As long as there are home- and community-based services available to meet the emerging needs of seniors, no one should have to make that choice. Home- and community-based services promote value and foster independence for seniors. Cuts to assisted
living and Elderly Waiver rates reduce available options and force seniors into nursing homes prematurely. Isn’t that counterproductive to what should be the state’s mission of providing affordable, efficient, targeted care?
The demographic data doesn’t lie. According to the state’s own numbers, the senior population will grow by 40 percent in the next decade, while the population under age 65 will only grow by 4 percent. The number of seniors in our state will surpass the number of school kids by 2025. Given the magnitude of the demographic shifts ahead, the budget priority should be clear: Fund care for seniors.
Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature need to prioritize seniors in their budget negotiations by fully restoring proposed cuts to nursing homes and
assisted-living providers. What’s more, the state should ensure the surcharge it imposes on seniors is earmarked to help pay for older-adult services. If the surcharge is sent into the general fund to be used for other budget priorities it would return no value to those who pay it. It would be a true “granny tax.”
Where will seniors turn if the governor and Legislature continue to cut health-care services? In many rural communities nursing homes don’t have capacity to take on an increased demand.
It’s time for the state to prioritize seniors and fully restore the cuts to older adult services.
Karie Simpson of Duluth is chief operating officer for Northland Assisted Living.