Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin's "essential services" ruling today means Minnesota seniors who depend on subsidized care will continue to get services even if state government shuts down Friday.
Gearin ruled the state must fulfill its obligations to the federal government and continue to administer federal programs, including food stamps, welfare payments and Medicaid.
Care Providers of Minnesota and Aging Services of Minnesota, the state's two long-term care trade associations, applauded the move as a decision that averted potential disaster for thousands of seniors and those who care for them.
"We are relieved by the court's ruling...However, a shutdown will not be pain-free," Gayle Kvenvold, president and CEO of Aging Services of Minnesota, said in a prepared statement.
Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, says many places that care for older adults have little or no budget reserves and so could have been devastated without state funds.
"These are frail elderly who do not have the resources to pay privately they qualified for medical assistance or medicaid because they didn't have adequate income or assets to pay for that care themselves," she said. "They passed multiple screenings to be able to a access that level of service so these aren't people who can live at home independently."
On average throughout the entire state, nursing facilities are operating on pretty thin operating margins -- no reserves and about 22 days of cash on hand throughout the whole state, she added. "That means if we don't get paid by medicaid we don't have enough money to make more than one payroll."
(MPR News reporter Jessica Mador contributed).