Thursday, April 29, 2010

State view: Minnesota needs to prepare for aging surge

Patti Cullen, Gayle Kvenvold and Natalie Zeleznikar - 04/26/2010

Minnesota is aging. Unless we prepare for it, the unprecedented growth in the older adult population and the corresponding shrinking of the traditional work force will put significant strain on our state budget for decades to come. In just a few short months, the baby boomer generation starts turning 65. That means the biennial budget that is being put together at the Capitol this year will affect how prepared we are as a state to begin to deal with the surge of seniors in need of older-adult services. The good news is that Minnesota already has undertaken some necessary and foundational steps to handle the surge of baby boomers. We have taken steps to reform long-term care through our home- and community-based services programs. For nearly two decades, our state policy has encouraged the use of cost-effective home- and community-based services programs over institutional or nursing-home care whenever appropriate. As a result, nursing homes have become places where seniors and others receive rehabilitation services after a hospital stay - and then return home. Last year in Minnesota, the typical nursing home resident stayed less than a month; half of those discharged returned home. To cope with a strained state budget, we must carry on with reform and not resort to cuts. We must continue the trend of developing a spectrum of care options for older adults, allowing choices so they can receive the right level of service at the right location when they need it. Given the demographics, we also must reform long-term care financing if the state wants to have a sustainable, long-term care system that meets the diverse needs of all Minne-sotans. To be successful, the plan of action for financing reform must include essential components. Personal responsibility is one of those components. Individuals need to plan for and help finance their long-term care needs just as they do their retirements. Minnesotans should view this as an obligation, and policymakers need to establish mechanisms that both encourage and reward that behavior. Strategies include consumer education, tax incentives for personal savings, pooling risk to make purchasing long-term care insurance more affordable, and allowing private citizens to pay for their costs of care by phasing out the equal-rates law for nursing facilities. Public investment is another necessary component. Some additional public investment is essential to maintain our societal responsibility to care for our elders. Increased revenue will help the state continue to be a good partner in providing care and services, particularly to those who cannot otherwise afford quality care. And a third component is administrative alignment. The state should establish a new cabinet-level focus on aging, empowered to consolidate and coordinate multiple, cross-cutting programs now housed in separate agencies and administered by separate entities at separate levels of government. The efficiency created by proper administrative alignment would allow the state to go from *eactive to predictive in planning for the needs of seniors. This combination of short-term and long-term strategies will strengthen our promise to elders and give back some measure of what they have given to us over the course of their lifetimes. We also would leave the next generation a sustainable, long-term care system. Together, we can seize this opportunity to make real, sustainable change. It will take all of us - including providers, advocates, legislators and the executive branch - to get it done.

Patti Cullen is president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, based in Bloomington, Minn. Gayle Kvenvold is president and CEO of Aging Services of Minnesota, based in St. Paul. And Natalie Zeleznikar is CEO of Keystone Bluffs Assisted Living and of Diamond Willows Advanced Care in Duluth. All three are members of the Long Term Care Imperative, a legislative collaboration between Care Providers of Minnesota and Aging Services of Minnesota, the state’s two long-term care trade associations. They wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Effects of MN Budget on Elders

In an effort to balance the state budget, proposals are being made to cut funding to nursing facilities and home care services. While the two-and-a-half percent cut might appears to be small, it will, in fact, greatly impact the quality of care for seniors. Another proposal is a "phase-out of the rate equalization law" that would effectively prevent nursing homes from charging private pay residents higher rater set by Medical Assistant. This would result in the majority of seniors paying increasing more for their care ranging from an estimated $600 to $800 more a month. For more info on this, click here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Minnesota Renters's Credit Coalition

While our collective efforts were successful in convincing the legislature to oppose all cuts to the Renters’ Credit, unfortunately Governor Pawlenty implemented a 27 percent cut to the Renters’ Credit in 2010 through unallotment. What is the impact?

· 280,900 Minnesota households will see a cut in their Renters’ Credit at a time when they are struggling to make ends meet. The average credit will be cut by $129.
· 18,000 Minnesotans lose their credit completely.

And the Governor’s new budget proposal for this year wants to make that cut permanent.

We need to continue to work together to fight these cuts and to ensure that the state’s budget isn’t balanced on the backs of low-income renters, seniors and people with disabilities.

The sign-on letter last year was an important part of our advocacy efforts. We need to do it again this year. We have updated the sign-on letter with more current information, but the message remains the same. Click here to see the letter online at

Please let them know if you do not want your organization’s name to appear on this year’s sign-on letter.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Field Program Associate Job Opening with WOW

Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Good afternoon! Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) is hiring a Field and Program Associate for the Elder Economic Security Initiative™ (Initiative). The Associate will support the delivery of strategic technical assistance and expertise to WOW’s state partners in the Initiative. The Associate will be responsible for assisting with the development and implementation of services and materials to assist state and local advocates in promoting intergenerational economic security.
WOW offers a competitive benefits package including health care benefits and a retirement plan. Qualified applicants for this position should submit a resume, cover letter, and writing sample by fax, or by e-mail by Friday, March 12, 2010 to:

Wider Opportunities for Women
Attn: Alisha Howell
1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 930
Washington, DC 20036
Fax: 202-464-1660

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Do you know someone over 60 creating new solutions to social problems?

Ann Higdon isn't your average baby boomer. Inspired by her own difficult childhood, she's now running a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged teens in Dayton, Ohio, turn their lives around. She's also one of 10 people to win the 2009 Purpose Prize for changing lives - starting with her own.
Know someone like Ann? The $100,000 Purpose Prize is accepting nominations, including self-nominations, click here until March 5.
Ann's organization, Improved Solutions for Urban Systems (ISUS), helps high school dropouts get their degrees and build careers. Her students not only get a high school education, they also learn job skills in health care, computer operation and construction. Many students take their training and use it to improve their community, such as building homes in run-down neighborhoods.
The Purpose Prize is looking for 10 people to win up to $100,000 each to support their work solving some of our most pressing social issues - from health care to the environment, poverty to education.
Get started on nominating someone you know, a parent, coworker, friend or yourself, for the 2010 Prize.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Spotlight on: Ladder Out of Poverty Bill (HF 2062/SF 1770)

In Jan 2009, Legislative Commission to End Poverty by 2020 released their final report recommending for strategies to aid low-income Minnesotans to accumulate and retain assets while promoting financial literacy. Representative Morrie Lanning and Senator Michael Jungbauer responded by introducing HF 2062 and SF 1770. The bill calls for a task force to be established focusing on critical multi pronged poverty alleviating issues such as assets building and maintenance, predatory lending practices, and financial education. All these issues must be addressed before Minnesotans, especially elders, are able to maintain economic security and to age with dignity. Please contact your legislator to let them know you support Minnesotans' ladder to economic self sufficiency! Click here to track the progress on this bill.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Job openings with DARTS!

DARTS currently has an opening for Transit Director. Application deadline is January 28, 2010.

DARTS also has an opening for Chief Financial Officer. Application deadline is February 6, 2010.

Contact John Koenen, DARTS HR Director, at 651-455-1560 or by e-mail.

To learn about typical positions at DARTS, see general job descriptions.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Renters' Credit Shopping Bag

To watch the video about the Renters' Credit Shopping Bag, visit:

Click here for the video

Last year, over 200 people mailed HOME Line letters telling us what they used the Renters’ Credit to buy. This year, we’ve decided to use those stories … and future stories … to fill “Renters’ Credit Shopping Bags” and bring those bags to legislators so they can see why it’s important to their constituents.

HOME Line will make a Renters’ Credit Shopping Bag for each community we get stories from. Here’s what we need from you:

* If you are a renter who gets the Renters’ Credit: Tell us your story. Or, just let us know what you buy with the Renters’ Credit. Let us know if we can use your name (first name, if that’s all you are comfortable with). You can call, write, or email us. Use the contact information below.
* If you are a service provider: Serve as a hub for stories in your local community. Send HOME Line stories as you get them. Or, perhaps you can send us a grocery bag from one of your local stores. We will use that bag to create your community’s Shopping Bag.

Since some of the items in the shopping bag will be of value (and we can’t give gifts to legislators), HOME Line will hold on to the bags, show them to legislators at appropriate times, and make sure the items donated get to a food shelf, homeless shelter, or person in need after the 2010 Legislative Session.

HOME Line’s contact information:

Call: (612) 728-5770 ext 108 Ask for Tracey



3455 Bloomington Avenue

Minneapolis, MN 55407


Are You a Renter Residing in Minnesota?

If so, you might already know that your 2009 Renters' Credit tax refunds is decreased from 19% to 15%.
Here are some relevant background:
-For many low to moderate income Minnesotans, the Renters' Credit provide a tax refund on their disproportionally large contribution to property taxes.
-Minnesota's property taxes are regressive such that low to middle income Minnesotans pay a larger share of their income than their higher-income counterparts.
-The Property Tax Refund lessened this regressivity by providing a credit to households whose property taxes are high in relation to their income. Also know as "Circuit Break" for homeowners and the "Renters' Credit" for renters.
-Starting 2004 to 2009, statewide rental property taxes have increase 3 times greater than the Renters' Credit refund.
-28% of Renters' Credit recipients are seniors or people with disabilities. And in the Greater Minnesota counties, over 50% of recipients are seniors or people with disabilities!
-In 2006 over 274,000 low to middle income Minnesota households received an average $550 due to the Renters Credit refund.
-2010-2011, the Governor's proposed 27% Renters Credit reduction which is about $51 million per year thus reducing refunds from 19% of rent paid to 15%.
-Under this allotment, the average Renter's Credit will be reduced by $129 for claims beginning August 2010.

For many Minnesotans, the Renters' Credit is more than just a tax rebate. It is a critical tool to offset the high cost of property taxes paid by renters in these tough economic time.
Click here for more information on this critical issue.

Click here for a calculation of your renter's rebate with and without unallotment.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fabulously Frail

In her's blog-Overlooking the Frail Years- Paula Span recently brought up the "binary" thinking among many us in thinking about our aging years. The binary arises from the thinking that we are either healthy and fine or that we will die. This healthy/death is the binary thought that needs be revamp. In fact, many of us will live much longer and in that process, we are going to have health problems and will need assistance with long term care. It is estimated that more than two-thirds of current 65-year-olds, according to research by Kemper, Komisar & Alecxih (2005), many will at require assistance to cope with ADLs for daily living, either paid help or unpaid, at home or in a facility.
The author argues that it is not the case that we are unable to conceptualize ourselves as aging and being frail but that we opt to not think about it. As a result, we are less likely to plan for long term services and thus encounter less attractive options later on.

CLASS Act (Community Living Assistance Services & Supports)

from Wider Opportunities for Women, our national partner

The CLASS Act aims to provide long-term care services and supports for older adults and persons with disabilities. It was originally introduced by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and passed in the House under the Affordable Health Choices Act (H.R. 3200). There have been numerous attempts to kill off the CLASS Act. However, it was also recently included in the Senate Health, Educational, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee bill. President Obama supports the inclusion of the CLASS Act in health care reform.

Under this act, community-based and long-term care services and supports would be more affordable and accessible to today's workers and future retirees. It would establish a national insurance program financed by voluntary payroll deductions. Workers have an opt-out option. Those who are eligible would be entitled to an allotted benefit ($50-75 per day) to cover low and medium level of home and community-based long-term services. These benefits would enable over 10 million Americans to have access to much-needed long-term care services. From the Elder Economic Security Index (Elder Index), we learned that home and community-based long-term care can double or triple an elder's overall expenses, forcing elders to spend-down their assets into poverty. The CLASS act would enable elders to receive the long-term care and supports that enable them to age with dignity.