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Minnesota legislators spar over nursing homes funding in passing omnibus

(The Center Square) – Minnesota taxpayers would spend $6 billion on nursing homes if a bill the Minnesota House of Representatives passed Tuesday becomes law.

Human Services Finance Committee Chair State Rep. Mohamud Noor, DFL-Minneapolis, is a House author of the bill, SF2934/HF2847, which passed 70-60 Tuesday.

The bill would appropriate $14.09 billion over the 2024-2025 biennium, with $1.31 billion in new spending, according to Session Daily. More than $12 billion would secure funding for medical assistance.

Rep. Anne Neu Brindley, R-North Branch, said in a news conference Tuesday that Republicans want more funding for nursing homes, Session Daily reported. In an amendment, she asked for $230.97 for the next four years for nursing facility grants, but Noor cut it to $20 million to protect funding for HIV/AIDS services.

With an automatically adjusted reimbursement rate, nursing facilities over the next four years are supposed to receive $847 million more compared with the last two-year budget, Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said in a statement.

It’s the largest amount of nursing home funding in state history, according to a House DFL news release.

“Our budget makes great strides to not only care for our most vulnerable Minnesotans, but also the workers who care for them in turn,” Noor said in a statement. “Effectively caring for those who need it is a moral test that every budget should pass, and ours does so for our nursing homes, caregivers, and those in the grips of the opioid epidemic.”

The budget proposal includes more than $2.3 billion over the next four years to raise the rates in community first services and supports, elderly waiver, the disability waiver rate system, home- and community-based services, intermediate care facilities, and workforce incentive and training opportunities, the release said.

Under the bill, the state would spend $33.3 million on recruiting and retaining direct support and frontline workers and more than $25 million to increase the provider capacity of these services in rural and underserved communities. Minnesota would spend about $100 million on chemical dependency treatment support grants, including roughly $56 million on safe recovery sites.

The commissioner of human services would award $2 million in grants to Tribal Nations and five urban Indian communities for traditional healing practices for American Indians and increase the capacity of culturally specific providers of behavioral health, the bill said.

The state would transition to a minimum daily operating rate of $260 by the end of 2023 for Intermediate Care Facilities for persons with developmental disabilities and ensure people with disabilities earn at least minimum wage by Aug. 1, 2028.

Personal care assistants would earn $19 per hour in 2024 and $20 per hour in 2025, with step increases of up to $22.50 hourly, according to Session Daily. The bill would allow personal care assistants to drive clients and raise rates for certain home and community-based services.

The Senate passed the bill in a 63-4 vote April 18. Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, is the sponsor in the Senate. A conference committee is supposed to settle disputes between the two bills.

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