Sending a poor message

To the Editor:

On April 23, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved an $11 billion health and human services funding proposal. The House majority’s plan to cut $26 million dollars next biennium from senior living has rural nursing homes very concerned.

In rural Minnesota, nursing homes are one of the largest, if not the largest employer in a community. These facilities can’t absorb the kinds of cuts the Democrats are proposing, yet despite our best efforts, it appears these cuts are going to move forward.

Specifically, the House majority’s health funding bill proposes $26 million in cuts off of base funding for nursing homes statewide, meaning local nursing homes will be forced to do more with less.

It’s one thing for the Legislature to tell every agency to tighten their belts because the goal is to curb government spending overall. But you have to remember House Democrats want to raise overall spending by nearly $3 billion, and they also want to raise nearly $3 billion in increased taxes and fees over the next two years – and despite this mammoth increase they’re still trying to tell nursing homes they need to accept less revenue.

During the House floor debate on the health finance legislation, rural lawmakers attempted to amend the proposal in order to give nursing homes and long-term care facilities the additional funding they need, but those attempts were voted down.

After a lifetime of working, raising families and contributing to the success of our nation, our senior citizens deserve comfort and dignity in their retirement years – not empty promises.

It sends a poor message to nursing homes and their employees that state government would rather spend billions on wasteful government programs than to give them more money.

State Rep. Bob Gunther,