ST. PAUL – House Democrats approved a bill Tuesday which Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, said ignores a long-term care crisis in our state by severely underfunding this portion of the state budget.
Urdahl roundly criticized the House Human Services Finance omnibus package (S.F. 2934) for its lack of funding for nursing homes, which came to the floor accounting for just .01 percent of the Democrats’ $72 billion budget proposal that consumes the state’s $19 billion surplus and increases state General Fund spending by 40 percent.
“This bill suggests the state is OK with nursing homes closing around the state,” Urdahl said. “This bill seems to imply that a person who needs nursing home-level care should just figure it out on their own. It also seems to imply our nursing home workers – whether a CNA, a housekeeper or a cook – do not deserve to earn a livable wage.”
Meanwhile, Urdahl said Minnesota is in the midst of a “silver tsunami,” with more than 1.3 million state residents aged 65 or older. As these residents age, he said, their need for care grows and it is unfortunate to see Minnesota is not keeping up with these needs.
Urdahl indicated 2,597 nursing home beds have been taken out of service in Minnesota since 2020, the equivalent of shuttering 52, 50-bed homes. The long-term care industry in Minnesota, he said, currently is operating with a worker shortage of 53,000 and that, in the month of October alone, 11,000 elderly residents were turned away from nursing homes – largely due to lack of staff.
Urdahl said the inability to fully staff our nursing homes then places added strains on hospitals, with nearly 20 percent of their bed space taken up by people who could be better served recovering in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
“Our most vulnerable citizens and those who care for them deserve better than this, Urdahl said. “We need to do a better job of getting our priorities straight to help these people. Let’s hope a conference committee makes significant improvements to this bill to better support our nursing homes before it comes up for a vote on final passage.”