Rep Denny McNamara: Capitol Update

Representative Denny McNamara

Representative Denny McNamara

By Rep. Denny McNamara, 10/15/2015

Hello from the State Capitol,

Did you know that by the year 2020, Minnesota will have more adults aged 65 or older than school-age children?

This is a first in our state’s history and its problematic for a number of reasons. First, there’s a worker shortage at Minnesota’s nursing homes with roughly 3,000 job positions vacant, leading to an estimated 1,500 senior citizens from being accepted by a local care center. Previous nursing facility funding rates were also substandard, as under the previous payment system Medicaid and private rates were almost $30 per patient below the average cost for that patient’s care.

To address these problems last session, the Minnesota Legislature completely reformed the way skilled nursing facilities are reimbursed through Medicaid and made historical investments in our care centers.
Under this comprehensive new law, Minnesota’s nursing homes will receive $138 million in new funding. Locally that means $1.022 million for the Augustana Health Care Center and $693,000 for the Regina Medical Center.

This revenue is not dedicated, meaning the local facility can determine how to best use this income, whether it’s to increase staff wages, buy new equipment, or make property enhancements.

Real performance incentives are also a key piece of the reform, as a center that provides great quality can see an increase in its rates. As part of the Medicaid reimbursement reform, nursing facilities will soon be compensated on a cost-based formula based on their actual cost report. This will replace the complicated and antiquated reimbursement formula which has been in place since 1983.

In short, the 2015 Legislative Session made a real and meaningful investment in our seniors and caregivers in Minnesota, and I’m proud to have supported the most comprehensive nursing home funding reform in nearly 30 years.

In other news, I was pleased to visit Pinecrest Elementary in Hastings this week to take part in a “Farm to School” event conducted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. This program highlights local farm produce that is used in lunches at our schools. On Tuesday, I joined Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and Minnesota Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Santo Cruz for a meal that included locally grown sweetcorn, Honeycrisp apples, and Minnesota wild rice. It was absolutely delicious.

We were also able to learn more about the famers who make “Farm to School” possible. Ann and Dave Buck operate Buck’s Unlimited Dairy in Goodhue and send their milk to the Hastings Co-op Creamery, which is the local milk provider for Hastings Public Schools. The apple supplier was Gary McDougall of McDougall’s Apple Junction in Hastings, and I can tell you from being in the cafeteria that the students really enjoyed their Honeycrisp treat.

It was a pleasure to take part in this event and to visit with some of our area food suppliers, school staff and students. Thanks to the Department of Ag and the good folks at Pinecrest Elementary for the invitation. And to all those who take part in “Farm to School” every day, keep up the great work!

Keep in touch,
Denny

Representative Denny McNamara
365 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.denny.mcnamara@house.mn

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