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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe Schomacker (R)

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Friday, January 16, 2015

In order to begin addressing the crisis that is taking place in Minnesota’s long term care industry, State Representative Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne) is authoring a comprehensive bill that seeks to address the needs of our aging population.

“Minnesota has a long way to go until we’ve fully addressed the workforce shortage in the area of senior care, but this bill takes a long overdue first step towards addressing the issues we face,” Schomacker said.

Schomacker’s senior care bill is so critically needed that the House majority made it one of its top five priorities of the 2015 legislative session.

The provisions in Schomacher’s bill include:

• Expanding health professional education loan forgiveness program to certain health care professionals who work in a nursing home or care facility for those with disabilities.

• Expanding employee training scholarships to reimburse student loan expenses for recently hired and recently graduated nurses and licensed practical nurses.

• Directing the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to better utilize existing programs to help train workers for and fill long-term care facility openings.

• Creating a long-term care savings plan to encourage people to save for future long-term care costs. (Makes up to $1,000 per person, per year exempt from income tax)

• Providing a credit for any penalty paid for early withdrawals from IRAs for long-term care costs

Schomacker stressed that these proposals are a starting point in the discussion. He looks forward to working with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create a better product for Minnesota.

“We need to allow people to have options as they grow older,” Schomacker said. “The goal is to allow individuals to be more responsible for their own long term care costs and services instead of relying on the state to pay for all of those costs.”

The first stop for Schomacker’s bill is the House Aging and Long Term Care Policy Committee, which Schomacker chairs. It will likely be heard in several House committees before it can be debated by the full Minnesota House.