The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 15, 2013

Your View: Caring for seniors is good for everyone

By Lori Bussler, Good Samaritan Society, Winthrop and Lafayette; Jennifer Pfeiffer, Ecumen Pathstone Living, Mankato

— Recently, we witnessed something in St. Paul that is all too rare these days. A bipartisan group of legislators stood together to tell Minnesota seniors and their caregivers that this year they will be made a priority.

For far too long, long-term care facilities in Minnesota have been chronically underfunded. Citizens may not even know that Minnesota lawmakers actually control a significant portion of the revenue collected by nursing homes. Area lawmakers such as Sens. Julie Rosen and Lyle Koenen and Reps. Patti Fritz, Joe Schomacker and Rod Hamilton are among those leading the charge.

Rep. Hamilton hit the nail on the head when he said: "Aging is not a partisan issue, and the best way to meet the needs of our seniors is to invest now and make senior care a real priority." Sen. Rosen made it clear how important this is to our Minnesota economy and jobs atmosphere saying, "Minnesota's nursing homes and assisted living settings support over 112,000 jobs in Minnesota and infuse $6.7 billion into Minnesota's economy each year. An investment in senior care is an investment in a growth sector of Minnesota's economy."

Recently Sen. Kathy Sheran visited with senior care providers in our community. We are so thankful for her attention and encourage her to sign on as a co-author of the bipartisan legislation increasing base rates by just 5 percent over the next two years. Chronic underfunding of our senior care system has meant that those who care for our parents and grandparents are underpaid.

As providers of senior care services, we recognize that our staff deserves more. Now is the time for St. Paul to focus on good policy vs. partisan wins