Reforms would help seniors

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 16, 2002

In 2001, the state legislature granted funding for senior services which were used to help Minnesotans stay in their homes and communities.

Now, the Minnesota Health and Housing Alliance and the Care Providers of Minnesota are working to get at least $200 million from the state in 2003.

John Hustad, vice president of public affairs with the HHA, says the money would be used to build on the reforms started in 2001. "We want to rehabilitate facilities by improving room conditions and technology. It would cover costs, such as operating costs and insurance costs. Liability insurance could go up 50 to 100 percent this year … and we'll also see a fairly stiff increase in health insurance," Hustad explains.

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He says the money also would be used to "plug the services gaps" by setting up transportation services for seniors still living in their homes, creating adult day care programs and respite care programs. "These are all aspects of what a community needs … there is a shortage of these in the state," he says.

Though the state is facing a $2 to $3 billion deficit next year, Hustad says the $200 million the CPMN and HHA are asking for is absolutely necessary. "We believe this is part of a 10-year process (in the reform of senior services) but regardless of what we do, the need will not stop. We cannot afford to take two years off," he says. "We've taken a good step forward but we could lose that and take two steps back if we don't get the funding. We're asking for it to be a priority, were asking the legislators to be aware so when they start in January, they'll be prepared to make it a priority."

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at