The pleasant weather continues and some much-needed rain has blessed District 9B just in time for harvest, hunting and Fall colors. As I drive the district, I notice the early colors are just beginning. I hope you get a chance to support your local schools in the their Fall sports and maybe cheer for the homecoming candidates.
Since session ended I've had several discussions with operators and residents of long-term care facilities in our district. We've been hearing a lot about the raise long-term care providers received from the legislature this past session, but I wanted to give you an update on why we still have more work to do when it comes to our long-term care providers and making sure these facilities can keep their doors open and loved ones close to their families.
While providers did see a small pay raise for the first time in many years, the legislature neglected to scale back any regulations or address other factors that result in high costs for long-term care facilities, meaning many nursing homes and long-term care facilities remain at risk for closure due to operating costs that far exceed their budgets.
When a nursing home goes out of business in Greater Minnesota, the impact is felt all around the community. Family members are separated from their loved ones -- forced to drive longer distances to a facility two or three towns away to visit them. Longer distances might mean families can't afford to visit their loved one as often.
One of the largest contributing factors that has lead to a disproportionate amount of long-term care facilities being at risk for closure in Greater Minnesota is the funding imbalance that exists between rural and Metro facilities.
Due to this imbalance, facilities have a tougher time finding qualified staff. When they do find staff, they often leave shortly after being trained to work in hospitals or clinics due to the better pay in those positions.
We have a long-term care crisis in Greater Minnesota. Our inability to address the long-term care problem has led to an unacceptable "care gap." The baby boomer generation is aging, and the projected need for personal care assistants in the next decade far exceeds the number of people entering the field.
These are all problems we need to be taking steps to address. We must fix the immediate problems that put Greater Minnesota facilities at risk for closure, and we must take steps now to make sure long-term problems are solved for future generations.
This has always been an issue I've been passionate about. I will continue working with any legislator willing to help to craft common-sense solutions to fix these problems.
I also welcome your input -- if you have ideas, or even just a story to tell about your experience with long-term care, I want to hear from you. Please don't hesitate to contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-4247.
Have a great weekend,