7/12/2013 12:22:00 PM Minnesota House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, Rep. Savick Hold Senior Roundtable Discussion in Albert Lea
On July 11, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy and State Representative Shannon Savick (DFL - Wells) visited the St John's Lutheran Home in Albert Lea and held a roundtable discussion with seniors to highlight new legislation that will positively impact Minnesota seniors and nursing home workers.
This year, the Legislature addressed several issues that will greatly affect seniors across Minnesota. After a $1 billion in cuts to the Health and Human Services budget during the last biennium, the new budget provides a 5 percent increase for nursing home providers for the first time in four years. 3.75 percent will go directly to employee compensation, and 1.25 percent will be tied to a quality assessment. Nursing home providers will receive an additional 3.2 percent increase beginning October 1, 2015.
"Our budget reflects the right priorities: increasing funding for nursing homes and long-term care workers, and protecting Minnesota seniors, poor and vulnerable," said Majority Leader Murphy. "Minnesota seniors deserve the best care we can provide and these increases will ensure that providers are able to retain their high quality staff and avoid the quick turnover that has become so commonplace."
The budget includes a 1 percent increase for long term care providers while also repealing a 1.67 percent cut that was scheduled to go into effect July 1. Through the Reform 2020 initiative, the budget changes how seniors and people with disabilities receive long-‐term care, delivering the right services at the right time. By providing more choice and helping people stay in their homes, Reform 2020 will save taxpayers $151 million over 5 years.
"Seniors are a key part of our communities," said Rep Savick. "These are people who have spent their lives building our state into what it is today. I'm proud to say that our budget this year began to address some critical issues around seniors. This discussion helps us stay informed about things we can continue to work on in the future."
A new anti-wire scam law follows up on legislation passed last year that made anti-fraud cooperation an explicit term in licenses for money transmitters. Minnesota seniors lose approximately $30 million each year to these scams and law enforcement officials also confirm these are some of the most underreported crimes in our state, as victims of these scams tend to either be embarrassed or are elderly individuals who are fearful their families will no longer allow them to handle their own finances.
The new law enacts the industry's suggested solution of a "no transmit list" that bars money transmitters from accepting transmission requests from certain customers. Additionally, customers may now specify to the money transmitter where their money should be picked up, and if a pickup is attempted somewhere else, the money transmitter cannot pay out the transfer without the sender's express written consent to payment at the different location.
A new law was also enacted requiring more scrutiny on background checks for guardians and conservators to protect Minnesota's vulnerable adults from fraud and other financial crimes.
The new budget enhances the Renters' Credit, providing property tax relief to Minnesota renters (including elderly and disabled renters), so that the neediest renters see the greatest benefit. Under the improved Renter's Credit, 17,500 seniors and disabled will see a bigger refund, with an average refund increase of $145.
In order to help senior voters have greater access to the polls on Election Day, Minnesota will now allow "no excuse" absentee voting. Any eligible voter may cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason as to why they will not be in their precinct on Election Day. This means that anyone, for any reason, may cast their ballot by mail and avoid the possible logistical challenges of commuting to a polling place.
The Legislature also enacted a new Sick Leave for Family Member law, which lets family members use their existing sick leave to care for a parent with Alzheimer's or any other medical condition. The previous law only allowed sick leave when caring for a child; eligibility will now expand to include caring for an adult child, spouse, parent, grandparent or stepparent.
"After a decade of cuts, freezes, and disinvestments, we're changing course for a better future," added Rep. Murphy. "Our budget protects our seniors, ensures that they receive the best possible care, and makes real progress for the people of Minnesota."