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Protect Minnesota’s Seniors for Generations to Come.

Earlier today, Gov. Pawlenty was on MPR’s Mid-Morning, where he took a question about long-term care for Minnesota’s senior population.

His answer, the jist of which was captured by @bcollinsmn in his live-blog, was:

Everybody realizes the industry needs to change. It’s old-style’50s nursing homes. A lot of seniors want to stay in their homes, so bringing help into their homes is one way to serve them. They don’t want it to be old-style nursing homes, so the nursing home industry has to make that pivot. People aren’t going into nursing homes and living for as long as they did.

Gov. Pawlenty’s struck me as a bit misleading, since he’s proposing to cut off Minnesotans of all ages from health care and other state services.

Now kicking kids off Minnesota Care is particularly bad, but so is turning our backs on the generation who built this country.  We should be honoring their sacrifice and service, not, as Sue Knutson, the CEO of Samaritan Bethany in Rochester, wrote in the Post-Bulletin, reducing seniors "to a line item on the state’s budget."

When it comes to protecting our seniors, decisions simply can’t be about saving a little money in the short-term — instead they must be about finding lasting and sustainable changes to create infrastructure and stability now and for generations to come.

As a provider of older adult services in Rochester, I can tell you firsthand that as lawmakers look for ways to bring innovation to the delivery of human services in the state, they should look no further than long-term care.

The proposed budget cuts and federal stimulus dollars might pay down some of the state’s immediate budget problems, but they will do nothing to address the underlying challenges that will continue to plague the state beyond this budget cycle if serious reform efforts aren’t considered.

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