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Act Now! Advocacy Essential to Ensure Access to Care for Minnesota’s Seniors

It’s crunch time on the advocacy front! At the state level, we are in the final days of the legislative session and funding for aging services in still in play. Without our encouragement, funding could easily be left out of a final budget agreement.

Meanwhile, at the federal level, we are fighting two battles: one with CMS to stop Medicare rate cuts and another with Congress to bolster funding to support aging services in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

The time is now to speak up and share our stories with state and federal lawmakers. It’s essential for all of us to lift up our voices to ensure access to care for Minnesota’s one million seniors.

Below you’ll find five quick and easy opportunities to act.

Call Your State Representative; Ask them to Fund Aging Services in the HHS Budget Agreement

The Minnesota Senate is fighting for $358 million of funding for nursing homes and assisted living settings. Despite new data that nearly 450 long-term care setting across the state face closure without action, the Minnesota House is still unconvinced that action is needed now. The clock is ticking and we need everyone to call their state representatives! Ask them to tell Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman to fully fund long-term care. Without funding, 14,000 seniors could lose the care they’re currently receiving. CLICK HERE, enter your contact information, and follow the on-screen prompts. Here are talking points you can use:

  • My name is _____, and I work in the long-term care sector.
  • Of the $1 billion HHS budget target, the Senate is fighting to fund wage increases for caregivers, but the House hasn’t made it a priority.
  • The Senate has proposed spending $358 million to help keep our doors open.
  • Nearly 450 settings across the state are facing closure. Without funding, 14,000 seniors could lose the care they’re currently receiving.
  • Please ask Speaker Hortman to prioritize seniors and their caregivers in the HHS budget this session.
  • There are 23,000 open LTC positions across Minnesota. Increasing wages is the first step in recruiting and retaining caregivers to care for a growing number of seniors in our state. Minnesota is home to one million seniors, and we must ensure they have access to care in all the places they call home.
  • Thank you for your support of seniors and their caregivers.

Email the Ten HHS Conference Committee Conferees

The $1 billion Health and Human Services budget target announced by legislative leaders provides an opportunity to prevent the collapse of long-term care. Nearly 450 settings across the state are facing closure. Without funding, 14,000 seniors could lose the care they’re currently receiving. Send an email to ten lawmakers serving on the conference committee. Ask them to allocate just $358 million of the $1 billion target to a permanent wage increase for long-term care professionals. This is the position proposed by the Senate, and we want them to keep fighting for every dollar so desperately needed by professional caregivers.

Call Sen. Jim Abeler; Thank Him for His Support

We are hoping to support Sen. Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) as one of our staunchest advocates throughout this session. If you have a connection to Sen. Abeler, it would be great if you could share words of encouragement in the next couple of days. He’s got a fight ahead of him as they hammer out the details of how to spend the $1 billion that’s been carved out for HHS spending. Here are some talking points:

  • Thank you for supporting nursing homes and assisted living settings throughout this session.
  • We greatly appreciate the $358 million you proposed to go toward permanent wage increases for our professional caregivers.
  • We encourage you to keep fighting for every dollar! The system of long-term care is facing collapse – as you know 450 settings are currently facing closure.
  • Increasing wages is the first step in recruiting and retaining caregivers to care for a growing number of seniors in our state.
  • Minnesota is home to one million seniors, and we must ensure they have access to care in all the places they call home.

Email Your Member of Congress; Ask for New COVID-19 Funding

With COVID-19 cases, test positivity rates, and hospitalizations again on the rise, the country is not past the pandemic. Now is the time to ask Congress to fully fund additional support for the nation’s ongoing efforts to fight COVID-19—especially for older adults who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Experts are predicting new surges in the late Summer and Fall but additional funding is needed to make sure the country has enough vaccines, boosters, tests, and treatments to meet projected needs. We know the tools we need to confront COVID-19; Congress must act now so communities across the nation are prepared to deal with the coming surges. Please take two minutes to write to your members of Congress now and advocate for more COVID-19 relief.

Email CMS on Proposed SNF Medicare Payment Cuts

On April 11, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its 2023 Skilled Nursing Facility proposed payment rule. Among other issues that raise serious concerns, the rule proposes a 3.9% payment update that is offset by a 4.6% reduction due to a proposed parity adjustment of the patient-driven payment model (PDPM), resulting in a $320 million payment reduction to Skilled Nursing Facilities in federal fiscal year 2023. LeadingAge has made a call to action, urging facilities to send a letter to CMS on proposed payment cuts. Next month LeadingAge and LeadingAge Minnesota will also be submitting formal comments to CMS about the overall rule, and supporting members in doing so too, but this Action Alert is a separate, first step designed to advocate directly to CMS Administrator Brooks-LaSure about the harm of the proposed payment cuts.

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