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Daily Newscasts

Balancing the MN Budget Could Be Tough on Seniors

March 19, 2010

ST PAUL, Minn. - Nursing homes and home care services will experience a cut in funding under two proposals to help address the Minnesota budget deficit. AARP Minnesota has lined up in opposition to the proposals, one of which would cut state support of nursing homes, home care, and community-based care.

Michelle Kimball, state director of AARP Minnesota, worries that, while the two-and-a-half percent cut sounds small, it could harm the quality of care if administrators let staff go or reduce hours. The other proposal is a phase-out of the rate equalization law, which would prevent nursing homes from charging private pay residents more than the rates set by the Medical Assistance program.

"By repealing this law, it would allow nursing home administrators to shift costs onto residents who've saved their entire lives and are currently paying out-of-pocket for their own expenses."

If rate equalization is repealed, Kimball believes a majority of people would pay significantly more for their care - $600-$800 a month more.

These changes could mean higher cost and lower quality for Minnesotans who get care in their homes or live in a residential facility, she adds. AARP supports the state's long-time standard of charging all nursing home residents the same rate, says Kimball.

"Minnesota has a very strong tradition of fairness,; that people should pay the same for the same care. Repeal absolutely does nothing to help the state's budget, nor does it do anything to improve the quality of care."

Repeal of the law would result in more people becoming eligible for Medical Assistance even sooner, she adds, and the costs to the state in the long run will rise dramatically.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - MN