Human Services Conference Committee Completes Its Work with Mixed Outcomes for Aging Services Providers
Posted on May 18, 2023 by Erin Huppert
The Human Services Conference Committee closed the conference report on Wednesday with far-reaching implications for senior care. The report, which will proceed to each legislative chamber for final passage, includes mixed outcomes for aging services providers.
What’s in the final compromise
- $412 Million in permanent funding for Elderly Waiver. This reflects an improvement in the EW funding included in the Human Services Spreadsheet released over the past weekend. This funding level should result in full funding of the 2017 rate system, which is consistent with one of our top priorities. We estimate that this could increase rates by as much as 80% though we need to complete further analysis to confirm. The language requires 80% of any new revenue to go to wage and benefit increases.
- $90 million of one-time money to workforce incentive grants. This will be a competitive grant program to be applied for by any long-term care provider organization to provide bonuses to their workforce. Bonuses could cover cash, or other expenses, such as daycare and transportation. LeadingAge Minnesota and the Long-Term Care Imperative objected to this program, as one-time bonuses do not address recruitment and retention issues. Furthermore, with 300,000 eligible employees in the pool, incentives amount to $270 per person.
- $100 million of one-time money for a skilled nursing facility loan program. This is for financially distressed nursing homes, and these loans will not be forgivable. They will be interest-free, and repayment will begin 18 months after receiving the loan. LeadingAge Minnesota and the Long-Term Care Imperative objected strenuously to the program since it is not a solution to our crisis and could make the situation worse for those already in distress.
- PACE is included in the bill. This is consistent with the priorities of LeadingAge Minnesota and the Long-Term Care Imperative.
The investment in Elderly Waiver and its impact on services for low-income seniors who receive care in adult day and assisted living will have a significant impact. We are grateful lawmakers have finally acted to invest in these critical services after years of advocacy to ensure Elderly Waiver covers the cost of care.
Unfortunately, a loan program that many nursing homes cannot use in lieu of real funding for wages or addressing the 21-month delay is unconscionable. Read the LTC Imperative statement here.
What happens next
There is still time for legislators to address the crisis in nursing homes. We are burning the midnight oil to get lawmakers to craft an agreement in another bill during these final days to address our remaining concerns. In the meantime, the Conference Committee report will need to be passed by the House and Senate, likely by Friday, if not sooner.