Gov. Mark Dayton's recommendations for which services should continue receiving state funding in a predicted government shutdown has caused alarm among nursing homes and other facilities that care for seniors.
Dayton, a Democrat, wants nursing homes, hospitals and other providers to continue caring for Minnesotans on state health insurance programs during a shutdown. But in court papers filed Wednesday, Dayton argued the state shouldn't reimburse those providers until there's a budget deal.
Gayle Kvenvold, president of Aging Services of Minnesota, said that prompted questions among many of the more than 700 care facilities the agency represents in the state.
"We were both surprised and a little confused that you could on one hand deem that our services are essential and on the other hand say that the services to pay for them aren't," Kvenvold told MPR's Morning Edition on Thursday.
Kvenvold said the average provider in the Twin Cities area would be able to last 10 days without state payments. Statewide the average would be three weeks. Some providers would be harder hit than others, especially in rural areas, she said.
"For some, that's going to be enough to cover one payroll. For some, its not even going to be enough for that," Kvenvold said. "Even a temporary interruption of payment threatens the viability of some of those organizations, and of course we want to do everything we can to shield the seniors in our care to any impact of shutdown."
Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature are at odds over a projected $5 billion budget gap in the next two years. Lawmakers went home last month without reaching a budget deal with the governor.
Republicans say the state's budget impasse doesn't need to result in a shutdown. They've called again for Dayton to agree to their all-cuts solution to the budget. But Dayton said the Republicans' cuts would hit Minnesota's most vulnerable residents too hard.
Kvenvold said her organization is recommending that facilities seek a bridge loan or a line of credit from a local bank. Like other organizations, Aging Services of Minnesota is preparing a court petition to request that state payments continue.
But Kvenvold said nursing homes are preparing for the worst — a long period without state funding.
"At some point providers would face that very difficult decision of having to curtail their services," she said.
(MPR's Cathy Wurzer and Tim Nelson contributed to this report.)