Advocates say disabled, seniors unfairly targeted in budgetby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Long-term care providers say Gov. Mark Dayton's budget unfairly targets seniors to balance the state's projected $6.2 billion shortfall.
The governor proposes raising the Medical Assistance surcharge for nursing homes by $635 per bed.
Dayton says nursing homes would be able to recoup those taxes through higher reimbursement payments that will flow in from the federal government.
But Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, a nonprofit trade group that represents over 500 long-term care providers in the state, says the governor's budget does not dedicate those higher reimbursement dollars to long-term care.
"If all individuals in nursing facilities are increasing the amount that they're paying in this nursing home surcharge and it's not coming back to help with services provided, it's a granny tax," Cullen said. "It's a granny tax."
The governor is also proposing a 2 percent across-the-board cut to nursing facilities, and a 4.5 percent cut to home and community-based services.
Disability advocates also say Dayton's budget makes substantial cuts in programs that serve disabled people.
Steve Larson, co-chair of the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, said he predicts many caregivers will lose their jobs and many clients will go without necessary care.
"So what will happen is that in order to absorb this type of cut in a rate, they're going to have to either cut back on the hours of staff or lay off individuals," he said. "So that will mean fewer times when individuals can get out in the community. And they'll just have less supervision than they currently have."
The governor also proposed extending the cap on disability waiver programs. Larson says there are already 4,000 people on a waiting list for those services and the governor's plan will only make the situation worse.