Senior services will continue during shutdownby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Services will continue during a government shutdown for seniors who depend on subsidized care, a judge ruled.
Ramsey County Judge Kathleen Gearin today ruled the state must fulfill its obligations to the federal government and continue to administer federal programs, including food stamps, welfare payments and Medicaid.
Advocates for seniors applaud the judge's ruling. Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, says the judge's decision is a relief for nearly 60,000 vulnerable seniors and their families.
"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," Cullen said. "They passed multiple screenings to be able to access that level of service so these aren't people who can live at home independently."
The judge also ruled the state must make aid payments to cities and schools. But road projects and state parks would shut down on Friday without a budget deal. If DFL Governor Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature can't agree on a new budget by Friday, state government will shut down and close most social services.
Many places that care for older adults have little or no budget reserves. Cullen said.
"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," Cullen said. "That means if we don't get paid by Medicaid we don't have enough money to make more than one payroll."