Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Letter to the Editor: Nursing homes lament Dayton budget proposal

  • Does Minnesota have too many nursing home beds?

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  • There have been several recent articles in the press regarding the reductions made by Governor Dayton to nursing home facilities in his proposed budget.  There is some rationale to the Governor’s thinking.  Minnesota has too many nursing home beds!! 
        A national survey indicated that Minnesota has 85.5 nursing home beds per 1,000 residents over the age of 65.  The national average is 53.6. Two counties, Kittson and Norman, in NW Minnesota rank in the top 5 in the state in beds per resident.  In 1987, the high water mark, there were 48,307 NH home beds in the state; in 2004 there were 39,016; and by 2009 the bed count was 32,728.  Planners indicate there is a projected goal to have less than 50% of the 1987 benchmark by 2021.   Why?  Cost and consumer choice.
        In 2009, the average cost per day for a nursing home in the state was $180.  Or $5400/mo; $65,000/yr. By comparison the HCBS (home and community based services) costs for those over 65 to stay in their own home was $1214/mo; $14,568/yr.  It does not take a financial wizard to understand the Governor’s thinking.  HCBS services are not limited to those desiring home stay vs. nursing home care; but also other types of institutional care.  For those individuals the annual savings for delivering community based service saved Minnesotans from  $19,000 to $68,000 per year, per person.  This data was derived from the national Center for Medicaid Services (CMS).
     In addition, since becoming Governor, Mark Dayton has applied and was awarded by CMS a national MFP (Money Follows the Person) grant of 187 million dollars to further relocate those in nursing homes who do not need to be there. These dollars would allow them to transition from high cost nursing home care to less costly home care.
        What the Governor is saying is that for nursing homes, it cannot be ‘business as usual’.  No one is advocating that facilities should lay off loyal staff.  What can, and has happened, in other states is that nursing homes have reinvented themselves by becoming partners in the home care service industry.  Why can’t nursing staff, therapists, and aides work part of a shift in the facility and part delivering the same services to those remaining at home?  Even the nutritional staff, could not just prepare meals for those in residence, but also prepare meals for home delivery.
        The farming industry has changed drastically in the last 20 years; many businesses have changed to meet consumer demands.  This also can happen for those in the nursing home industry.