The article below is a top story from this week's ACTION newsletter—Care Providers of Minnesota's weekly newsletter for members. The newsletter focuses on current legislative issues, regulations, long-term care trends, and other Association news. Each Thursday evening, it is delivered to your inbox. To sign up for ACTION, contact Lisa Foss Olson (952-851-2483). To learn more about membership, visit our Become a Member page.
“One Minnesota” budget cuts NF rates & proposes older adult protections
By Patti Cullen, CAE | March 1, 2019 | All members
The “One Minnesota” budget released last week by Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan reflects much of the interim work done supporting protection of vulnerable adults, but also introduces some problematic cuts to nursing facility rates and new regulatory concepts for assisted living.
The multipronged proposal, outlined in Walz’s two-year budget plan, would subject assisted living facilities to more frequent inspections and immediate fines in cases of health and safety violations. The state would also create a licensing
system for assisted-living homes. If approved, the package would cost $62.5 million over four years and would represent the broadest expansion of consumer protections for vulnerable adults in Minnesota in generations. A four-page budget summary on these older adult protection provisions can be found here
As noted last week, there are many good budget priorities included in the “One Minnesota” budget under the umbrella of regulatory reforms and enhanced protections for vulnerable adults, and we support the goals outlined in the budget pages. We do have concerns about longer-term, unintended consequences on costs for senior care with the fee-driven approach to funding regulatory oversight, and the additional regulatory expectations but we look forward to discussions about how to minimize those implications. We have been reviewing a draft of the agency bill language corresponding to the budget pages and know there will need to be changes to that language to prevent widespread closure of current assisted living communities. As language becomes public, we will be reaching out to members for input on operational implications and grassroot action.
As noted last week, a significant area of concern is the proposed changes to the relatively-new Value-Based Reimbursement (VBR) system for nursing facilities: lowering the quality related limit, establishing a new cap for other operating rate, requiring an end of therapy assessment, and proposing a replacement property reimbursement system with an artificially low rental rate of return. The changes will result in rate reductions to some facilities, which come at a time when Minnesota is facing a rapidly-growing aging population and a growing shortage of professional caregivers to meet the rising demand for skilled, quality care in these settings. We have been meeting with state agency staff on their budget proposals to better understand where the savings will come from—as we analyze the data, we will provide our nursing facility members with estimates on how these reductions will impact their rates in the future. We encourage members to connect with their legislators to highlight how these proposals could impact their local long-term care providers.
We look forward to working with Governor Walz and his administration to shape a budget solution that provides all aging Minnesotans with the care they need to preserve their quality of life for as long as possible, incentivizes quality improvement, and supports career pipelines and pathways for caregiving professionals.
Don’t forget to check future ACTION articles, as well as the “Advocacy” page of the Association website to stay up-to-date with everything going on during the 2019 session, including important session materials, bills we are tracking, grassroots efforts, and more!