On July 1, the Housing Support maximum monthly room and board rate will increase to $1,135.
The annual recalculation of the Housing Support, formerly Group Residential Housing (GRH), which covers rent and raw food for eligible participants, will increase by $94 per month. The new rate of $1135 will be effective July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024.
Housing Support is a state-funded program that provides an income supplement to approximately 20,000 recipients each month to pay for rent and food. The amount of a Housing Support payment is based on a federal and state standard of what an individual would need, at a minimum, to live in the community. All of those supported by the program are at risk of institutional placement or homelessness.
This week, legislative leaders and Governor Walz announced they had reached global budget targets for creating Minnesota’s biennial budget (FY2023-2025). This agreement sets the stage for the Legislature to spend the state’s $17.6 billion surplus. According to the agreement, human services has been given a $1.3 billion target for the two-year period, and health care an additional $755 million.
These targets come at a time when the legislative activity remains at an all-time high; the House and Senate both reached 3,000bill introductions this week, which has never happened in the first year of the biennium (based on records starting in 1983).
What do these targets mean for aging services?
The joint budget targets released this week leave many questions for seniors and their caregivers, like:
How much of this $1.3 billion is ongoing versus one-time funding?
Where will other proposals with financial considerations fall within these targets?
We need $1 billion over the next four years to get our caregivers a starting wage of $22 an hour. Other providers in human services also have deep needs, so we worry that $1.3 billion for all of human services is not close to enough to cover the severe needs of seniors, people with disabilities, and professional caregivers.
Committees will begin building their omnibus bills starting next week, so LeadingAge Minnesota is working closely with its Long-Term Care Imperative partner to gather more information on the specifics of these targets.
A bill introduced by US Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jon Tester (D-MT), along with Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Mike Rounds (R-SD) to add assisted living services to veterans benefits.
The Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long-Term Care Act would create a small pilot program to offer eligible veterans who participate the option to have their care needs met in an assisted living community rather than at a Department of Veterans Affairs state home.
Currently, VA is not allowed to pay for room and board fees for veterans living at assisted living facilities—preventing many veterans from utilizing this long-term care option. This pilot program will save taxpayer dollars by allowing eligible veterans to access the appropriate level of care for their needs at assisted living facilities, instead of having to seek more costly care at nursing homes.
A press release about the bill includes a quote from our national partners LeadingAge and Argentum, along with other aging services associations: “The leading organizations that represent the assisted living profession applaud the leadership of Sen Tester, Moran, Murray, and Rounds for introducing this legislation. This pilot program makes sense for a number of reasons: it offers a new option in long-term care for veterans, creates significant savings for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and will demonstrate the numerous benefits of assisted living. The VA’s daunting cost estimates for long-term care, both current and in the future, illustrate the need for policies that mitigate the significant financial burden. We are encouraged by this legislation to jump-start these efforts.”
The Senators’ bill received strong backing from various Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and stakeholders nationwide.
Federal law requires an inpatient hospital stay for three consecutive days before Medicare will cover a patient’s care in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF). However, this three-day qualifying hospital stay requirement has become antiquated and onerous for patients and providers as the care landscape has changed in the nearly 60 years since Medicare was enacted.
The three-day qualifying hospital stay requirement was waived in 2020 during the pandemic, and beneficiaries who otherwise qualified for skilled nursing care received it—regardless of spending any amount of time in the hospital.
With the public health emergency set to end on May 11, now is the time to take legislative action to fix this unnecessary requirement permanently.
Tomorrow is Primary Election Day in Minnesota. A primary election determines which candidates will be on the ballot in November for the General Election. This August, voters will see partisan offices, like House, Senate or Governor, up for election and non-partisan offices, like county commissioner and municipal office races.
St. Francis Health Services encourages all Minnesotans, including those living and serving in long-term care settings, to exercise their right to vote. Democracy is stronger when we all engage. With one million seniors in Minnesota, now is the time to ensure that their needs are represented by policymakers in St. Paul and Washington, DC.
In Minnesota, you may register at least 21 days before Election Day, or you may register on Primary Day/Election Day at your polling place. Check out or download this factsheet on what you will need to register at a polling place on Tuesday. Note that for residents of long-term care settings, a staff person is permitted to go with residents to a precinct polling location to confirm a resident’s address. Learn more about helping residents exercise their right to vote here.
RENVILLE, MN (July 7th, 2022) – Workforce challenges, caregiver wages, and access to care for older adults were the top concerns shared by Renville Health Services staff during a recent legislative visit with Rep. Michelle Fischbach.
“There are currently 23,000 open caregiver positions across Minnesota. Professional caregivers and the seniors they serve are counting on support from our elected officials to help ensure access to care as the state’s senior population grows,” said Casie Knoshal, the Administrator at Renville Health Services. “We are thankful Congresswoman Fischbach visited our community and to hear directly from our staff about the challenges we face in the aging services sector.”
“The safety of our residents is our top priority. We want to care for everyone who comes to our door, but we have to turn people away when we don’t have enough caregivers to provide safe, quality care,” said Christine Bakke, Regional Director at SFHS. “We need support from lawmakers – at all levels of government – to make caregiving jobs as competitive as possible so we can recruit and retain caregivers needed to care for our older adults in all communities.”
“The staff at Renville Health Services work so hard and many of them work double shifts. We see a lot of people who want to keep working here but have to leave to better support their families,” said Casie Knoshal, RHS Administrator. “Wages that better reflect the quality care we provide are essential, and we appreciate support from lawmakers like Rep. Fischbach who want to know more about what we do and how we serve our community.”
Renville Health Services serves older adults in Renville and surrounding communities at Renville Health Services. They are a subsidiary of St. Francis Health Services of Morris. SFHS, and each of the subsidiaries, are faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare organizations. In addition to the skilled nursing care centers, they offer a variety of services that include customized/assisted living, therapies, senior housing, transitional and skilled nursing care, and behavioral and residential programs throughout the state of Minnesota.
Photo Caption: Casie Knoshal (Administrator), Cynthia Turrubiartes (NAR), McKayla Wohnoutka (NAR), Rep. Michelle Fischbach (MN-7), Christine Bakke (SFHS Regional Director), Cami Peterson-Devries (VP of Senior Services at SFHS).