Minnesota nursing homes are asking the Legislature for higher Medicaid reimbursement rates. They say they're struggling because the rates have not kept up with inflation.
Rick Carter is with The Long-Term Care Imperative, a collaboration of Minnesota Health & Housing Alliance and Care Providers of Minnesota. He says when nursing homes close, especially in rural areas, the results can be devastating.
"In small towns throughout Minnesota, that means jobs are lost, families are forced to travel much farther distances to visit loved ones. It means banks don't have local deposits and other local businesses don't have revenue, it means skilled workers are displaced," says Carter.
Jill Hess-Kollasch directs two nursing homes in Duluth. She says utility costs and other expenses have gone up, and she can't pay her staff as much as she'd like to.
"Hospital nurses in Duluth, for example, can earn as much as $20 more per hour than nurses in our facility," says Hess-Kollasch.
The Long-Term Care Imperative is asking the Legislature for higher cost-of-living increases this year and next, to make up for two years when there was no increase, due to the state budget crisis.
The group is also asking for a regular re-examination of the basis for reimbursement rates. It says nursing home rates haven't been recalculated since 1994, while rates for hospitals are revamped every two years.