Direct new investments towards frontline caregivers so that we preserve quality of care!

SEIU POSITION: Increase state funding for long-term care reimbursement rates by 5% in the next fiscal year. The new resources must be directed to caregivers
so that facilities can improve the quality of care they provide to Minnesota’s sick,
elderly and disabled adults.

BACKGROUND: For the past five years, long-term care workers
have struggled to maintain an adequate level of care for residents and clients
despite flat or minimal funding increases (0% in FY04, 0% in FY05, 2.26% in FY06,
and 2.25% in FY07). As the industry faces this financial crisis, it has begun to cut into the most important element of quality care – front-line caregivers. Low pay, unaffordable health insurance, and high rates of workplace injury all lead to high rates of employee burn out and turnover throughout the industry. Not only do workers in nursing homes suffer the impact of inadequate funding, but so do their residents and consumers, who are the elderly, disabled and sick members of our society. Inadequate funding means fewer staff working longer hours for less pay.

Current law calls for no across-the-board COLA increase in FY09. Instead, money was set aside to begin a process of bringing nursing home rates up to date with actual costs. This is called “rebasing.” Unfortunately, the money set aside wouldn’t even buy a 2% increase if it were spread across all homes, and worse, the rebasing formula leaves some homes with no increase at all. Until a good formula is developed, money should be dedicated to COLAs.

Instead of going forward with a flawed rebalancing process, we say delay the process for a year to give stakeholders a year to put a better plan together. The FY09 funding increase of 1.87% should be a straight across-the-board COLA funding increase. In addition, we propose that the COLA be increased by 3.13% to produce a total 5% COLA rate increase in the coming year. Finally, the legislature should continue its policy of directing 75% of the new money to hands on staff and giving workers the information and leverage (e.g. union sign-off clauses) to ensure that the dollars targeted to workers actually go to workers.

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