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Letter - State policies are closing nursing home facilities

FERTILE - This is written to all Minnesota senior citizens, their families and community caregivers.

I want you to be aware of what our state government is doing to our nursing home facilities here in Minnesota.

Policies have been instituted that are placing a heavy burden on our nursing homes and are causing nursing homes to close their doors.

The state requires nursing homes to pay a surcharge of $7.80 per day for each bed, occupied or empty.

The federal government matches these funds and they are kept in the state treasury.

Operating rates for Minnesota nursing homes were frozen from 2002 until October 2005, at which time a 2.25 percent increase was allowed. .69 percent of that was designated to compensate the staff. .57 percent was left for nursing home operations.

Inflation from 2003 through 2006 has risen 11.6 percent, but the rates that the nursing home can charge has been increased only 4.6 percent.

This leaves the nursing home in the red every year by large amounts.

The bottom line: Minnesota nursing home facilities are grossly under-funded. The rates are set by the state. As nursing homes run out of funds, they are closing or being sold to private parties for pennies on the dollar.

We, the senior citizens of this state, have been the backbone of our state government throughout our productive lives.

We paid taxes and are still paying taxes. We must speak up and not let the state destroy our nursing homes.

Please write to your state representatives, senators and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and ask what they are going to do about this mess they have created.

I have already written to my elected representatives and not one of them has had the courtesy to even respond.

We must make them take a closer look at what is happening to care for the elderly in Minnesota.

-- Karen Johnson, Fertile, Minn.