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Local senators decry DFL health bill

State Senators Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake and Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria are critical of DFL leadership for not giving nursing homes, group homes, and their employees a long overdue and adequate pay raise.

"It's inconceivable to think that after proposing an increase of $2.8 billion in state spending that will impact every hardworking Minnesotan, DFL leadership will not provide nursing homes and senior living with the funding they deserve over the next two years," Westrom said. "To me and many of my rural Republican colleagues this is unacceptable, and we are going to try our best to right this wrong."

Westrom and Ingebrigtsen, along with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, were under the impression that nursing homes and long term care facilities would receive an increase this year of around 5 percent.

Instead, the Democrats' health and human services bill only provides an increase of 2 percent in their funding for 2014-2015.

However, not all homes will get an increase, Westrom and Ingebrigtsen said. Long term care groups are concerned because workers and facilities have not had an increase for several years.

Westrom and Ingebrigtsen said this means nursing homes and senior living facilities will have to absorb the cuts in their own budgets to make up the difference, a situation particularly damaging to Greater Minnesota.

Westrom and Ingebrigtsen said they and others will push for greater funding increases and offer amendments for nursing homes when a comprehensive health and human services finance proposal is debated on the Senate floor in the coming days.

"Facilities caring for our elderly and developmentally disabled are among our largest employers, and some won't be able to stay open if the needed funding isn't provided," Ingebrigtsen said. "With this proposal, metro lawmakers are sending a clear message that nursing homes and senior care centers in Greater Minnesota are not valued and not priorities. Democrats found money to fund dozens of wasteful government programs this session yet they refuse to adequately fund our nursing homes."

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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