Legislature Has Goal to Improve Minnesota Nursing Homes
The latest legislative session proved to be fruitful for Minnesota nursing homes. Two major achievements were made in this latest session and they involved nursing home care and mental health.
On the mental health front, which is something that many seniors do struggle with every day, the investment will total $46 million over the next two years. This is a large investment into mental health care and the largest in the history of the state. The money will establish an integrated service system that can facilitate an appropriate response to mental illness.
The theme used by lobbyists had to do with the fact that it is known what works in the world of mental health and that that needed to be built on. There are a number of proven strategies involving early intervention and crisis management through suicide prevention and community-based services that advocates wish to expand upon. These strategies involve easing the shortage of beds at local treatment centers. In fact, Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center deals with bed shortages frequently due to the fact they offer the most intensive care for mental illness in the Twin Cities.
New Reimbursement Formula for Minnesota Nursing Homes
On the nursing home front, a new reimbursement formula is going to lead to an additional $138 for nursing homes in two years. This should put a stop to the long funding slide that nursing homes have been dealing with for years, as these facilities care for many within the aging population. The previous reimbursement scheme was not keeping up with the cost of nursing home care. The new formula is designed to keep the pace, while also providing nursing homes with incentives for efficiency and quality.
The main beneficiaries of this new plan are the nursing home residents, but the workers will benefit too because, up until this point, their wages have not been able to keep up with comparable jobs. Higher reimbursements will mean better wages. Money will also be set aside for scholarship programs that will encourage nursing home employees to seek careers in long-term care.
In this, increased funding has also been established for home health workers.
The pay and level of care for elders has been a concern for quite some time, as nursing homes have said they don’t have the financial foundation to perform the way that they need to perform. Being that most nursing home residents and home health patients utilize Medicare to pay for their care, these facilities and elder care businesses rely heavily on reimbursements from the state. When the reimbursements are low compared to the cost to operate the facility and meeting the needs of residents and patients, cuts are usually made and it begins with employee wages. Poorly paid employees sometimes perform poor or they seek other employment opportunities later.
The only concern is the fiscal foundation of the human services budget in future years. Too many obligations can strain the fund that also takes care of MinnesotaCare, the subsidized insurance program.