At the Capitol: Senate Committee Takes Closer Look at COVID-19 Effects on Nursing Home Funding

With one month of the legislative session complete, lawmakers are in full swing putting together a budget for 2022-2023 Governor Walz introduced his budget proposal last week and lawmakers have turned their attention to examining the details of that proposal this week. Here is what you need to know about what’s happening at the Capitol:

This Week
On Thursday, the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee is hosting a hearing on nursing facility rate payment in Minnesota. LeadingAge Minnesota, Care Providers of Minnesota and the Department of Human Services (DHS) have been asked to provide an overview of the rate process and issues that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be sharing recommendations on how to approach this issue with the committee, and we expect to be working with DHS over the next few months to allow for a flexible and fair rate calculation process that produces appropriate cost-based rates in the upcoming years.

While this is primarily designed to be an overview hearing, this hearing may provide some hints if value-based reimbursement for care centers is at risk for funding cuts. A key topic for this hearing will be a discussion on Blue Ribbon Commission suggestions for savings by making changes to value-based reimbursement.

Also, this week the Senate Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care Policy continues to receive updates on progress of vaccine distribution in Minnesota. On Wednesday, the Committee will walk though the Senate Republican “Seniors 1st” plan. The Committee will also hear S.F. 178, which proposes an Alzheimer’s public information program and proposes $250,000 in funding for this program.

In the House, the Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy heard H.F. 7, a bill to require paid sick and safe time for employees. The is the second bill that the House committee has heard on the issue of mandatory paid sick leave, indicating that the House is serious in advancing some sort of paid leave mandate in this legislative session. It is not clear that these proposals have traction in the Senate. We have indicated that paid leave mandates must be workable for providers and funded with increased reimbursement rates.

Last Week
Last week  Governor Walz unveiled his  2022-2023 budget proposal totaling $52.4 billion with $150 million in cuts as well as $1.64 billion in new taxes. Thankfully, the Governor’s budget does not include any cuts to senior services. This is the start to budget negotiations with the Legislature. LeadingAge MN and the Long Term Care Imperative will be advocating for additional investments in senior care to help address COVID 19 recovery efforts and workforce needs as well as improved Elderly Waiver reimbursement

What’s Ahead
There are two important committee hearings this week at the legislature. In addition to the Senate’s Human Services Reform Finance and Policy hearing on nursing home rates on Thursday, Feb. 4, the House Labor, Industry, Veterans, and Military Affairs Finance and Policy committee will have a hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 3 regarding adult day programs for veterans.

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