Local view: Minnesota must do more to care for senior citizensIf the moral test of government is how it treats our most vulnerable citizens, we believe Minnesota has more work to do to support its seniors and those who care for them.
By: John Korzendorfer and Katie Redig, for the News Tribune
Vice President Hubert Humphrey once said, “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children, (and) those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly.” Humphrey was a great leader, and his words were as true in 1977 when he said them as they are now.
We are writing to lend a voice for those we serve: those in the twilight of life, the elderly.
If the moral test of government is how it treats our most vulnerable citizens, we believe Minnesota has more work to do to support its seniors and those who care for them. In recent years, Minnesota’s seniors too often have been forgotten, and those who care for them are too often underfunded.
Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed budget was a welcome start to the discussion of how our state will support seniors in need of long term care services. But even the governor’s budget proposal would not sufficiently invest in senior care services to recover from years of chronic underfunding.
In late February, a bipartisan group of legislators joined together to advocate that our elderly and their caregivers be treated as priorities this legislative session. While this diverse group of legislators might disagree on many issues, it agreed Minnesota’s seniors should be a top priority for the state. This bipartisan legislative caucus hopes to work with the governor to support increased funding for nursing homes and for the Elderly Waiver program to help keep seniors in their own homes and out of nursing homes.
We know an increased investment in senior care will require additional revenue. Whether that additional revenue comes from economic development, increased prioritization of investment from the current revenue or from new sources is sure to be a source of debate. We are hopeful Gov. Dayton and the Legislature will work together to identify revenue sources that can support a financially stable long term care system as we prepare for the age wave. The services seniors depend on have been chronically underfunded for far too long and need to be made a priority this year.
The positive budget forecast issued Feb. 28 gave policymakers no excuse but to invest in Minnesota seniors and caregivers.
Support for our seniors is not a partisan issue. We are confident that by bridging the partisan divide early in this legislative session, lawmakers and Gov. Dayton can have an honest conversation about investing in the care and services our aging population will need.
John Korzendorfer is executive director of Ecumen Bayshore Health Center in Duluth. Katie Redig is administrator and CEO of Benedictine Health Center in Duluth. Both health centers are part of the Long-Term Care Imperative.
ABOUT THE EFFORT
The Long-Term Care Imperative is a collaborative effort between Care Providers of Minnesota and Aging Services of Minnesota to advance a shared vision for senior care and supportive services for Minnesota’s senior population. The goal of the imperative, it says, is to help make caregivers and senior care priorities of Minnesota policymakers to both ensure the best care for our aging population and provide the best jobs atmosphere for skilled care workers in Minnesota.