Nursing Homes

Minnesota Nursing Home Workers Win Big

Louise Duffee speaking at rally for increased nursing home funding

Louise Duffee speaking at rally for increased nursing home funding

Despite an overall HHS Budget that cut over $300 million in healthcare spending, Minnesota nursing home workers won a historic new rate system that invests $138 million over the next two years. The average home will see an increase of a little over 20%, finally bringing reimbursement rates up to the cost of care after decades of underfunding. SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center should see rates go up around 37%.

The new nursing home reimbursement system contains several features that reflect long-standing SEIU priorities.

  • Rates will reflect the actual cost/price of care and will go up automatically as cost/price goes up. No more will workers have to go to the legislature every two years to request a raise.
  • The upper limit on price and cost will be set by a single state-wide figure based on Metro area expenses. No more lower 2nd and 3rd tier rates for homes outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.
  • Automatic Nursing Home rate increases budgeted as costs go up.
  • For homes with collective bargaining agreements, past expenses will not be eligible for increased funding without union agreement. We preserved the voice of workers in spending decisions.

For years, SEIU nursing home workers like Louise Duffee, union steward at Texas Terrace nursing home have be testifying at legislative hearings, attending Lobby Day, donating to COPE and volunteering for legislative candidates. All of the hard work had paid off with a historic victory.

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SEIU HCMN Member Brenda Schwartz feature in Working Families Fund Radio Ad for State Rep Patti Fritz

Check out SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member Brenda Schwartz from St. Lucas Care Center in this radio ad from the Working Families Fund . Brenda talks as a nursing home worker about why we need to re-elect State Representative Patti Fritz.

This post is an independent expenditure in support of Patti Fritz for State Representative by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota PAC. It is not approved by any candidate.

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Nursing Home Workers Need Support

Recently some legislators, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk more prominently, who support the idea of raising the minimum wage, have expressed concern that a $9.50 minimum wage would hurt Minnesota nursing homes. They have expressed fears that if homes were forced to pay all workers $9.50 an hour, many would close.

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Rep. Fritz and SEIU member Louise Duffee lead bi-partisan push to increase long term care funding

At a February 26th press conference, SEIU Exec Board member and MN State Representative Patti Fritz introduced a bill that would increase long term care funding and enable nursing home workers to receive a long-overdue raise. Backed by a bi-partisan group of legislators including SEIU-endorsed GOP State Rep. Jim Abeler, the bill would provide nursing home workers with their first real raise in over six years.

Bill HF 886/ SF 792 would:

  • Increase nursing home pay rates by 5% in October 2013, with a second wage increase of another 5% in October 2014.
  • All nursing homes will receive at least a 3% increase with an additional 1-2% based on their progress towards certain quality program goals.
  • For all rate increases, 73% or more must be dedicated towards new wages and benefits for front line caregivers.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member Louise Duffee, an RNA from Texas Terrace, spoke alongside Rep. Fritz at the hearing.  Duffee spoke about having a smaller paycheck than she did six years ago and the problem of short staffing in nursing homes across the state.  She shared about one night in particular she recalled on the job:

“Down one hall, I faced two flashing call lights and down the other hall, I saw eight more flashing call lights.  I was left to handle all ten lights by myself.”

Now Louise and Patti need your help. Contact your legislator and ask them to support HF 886/ SF 792. You can find you legislator and their contact info at www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts.

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Healthcare Workers and Vulnerable Adults Protected as Governor Dayton Signs Tougher Elder-Abuse Bill

Today, Governor Dayton signed into effect the Vulnerable Adult Felony bill, which, for the first time, increases the charge for neglect of vulnerable adults to a felony. The bill creates a felony provision in state law that would target caregivers who intentionally deprive vulnerable adults of food, clothing, shelter, health care or supervision.

Minnesota has been one of five states that classified such crimes as misdemeanors, with little or no jail time and minimal fines even in cases where vulnerable people were found suffering in squalid conditions. The new law will create a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Healthcare Minnesota, and others in the care industry worried their workers could be punished for honest mistakes or lack of resources, but the compromise reached in the bill creates some protections for workers and facilities. Healthcare Minnesota worked with the County Attorney Association and Representative Gottwalt to make sure that felony neglect in the vulnerable adult bill included an affirmative defense for workers. This defense protects care workers if they can show neglect occurred because of inadequate staffing levels or lack of training. Minnesota will be the only state that includes such language.

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Caregivers and Community Members Rally to “Stop the Nursing Home Closures”

Wall Street, top 1% should pay fair share to stop cuts and closings

Caregivers from Dellwood Place and Bethesda Care Center, two Cerenity nursing homes slated for closure in November, rallied Wednesday at Dellwood Place with community supporters from across the Twin Cities to stand up for seniors, the disabled, and long term care workers.

During a week that the Congressional “Super Committee” is expected to discuss proposals to make drastic cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and public services, those at the rally demanded that major banks and “the top 1%” pay their fair share of taxes to protect public services like quality care for our disabled and elderly.

“These closures will force our residents, who have lived in the community for decades, to move away from their neighborhood and family members,” said Calvin Cooper, a janitor at Dellwood Place. “The big banks crashed our economy and foreclosed on our homes.  Now, the continued refusal of the top 1% to pay their fair share of taxes is causing budget cuts and closures of our state’s nursing homes. It’s time to stop being bullied by the big banks and Wall St. and start standing up for dignity for seniors and workers.”

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Shutdown FAQ

Updated 6/30/11  12:15pm

Will the shutdown affect my hospital, clinic, or nursing home?

The short answer is yes.  Our facilities rely heavily on state funding to operate and a government shutdown will likely interfere with payments from the state.  Right now, the courts are hearing arguments to keep essential services running even if the state government shuts down, but a final ruling has not yet been made.  Stay tuned for more updates as information becomes available. Judge Gearin ruled on June 29th that the State will continue to make Medicaid/MA and MNCare payments to hospitals and nursing homes.

Will I get paid during the shutdown?

We will continue to enforce our collective bargaining agreements during any government shutdown including applicable payday and wage provisions.

I’m a licensed healthcare worker.  How will the shutdown affect me?

The Minnesota Board of Nursing and the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice have said that licensed health-care professionals will not be able to renew their licenses during a government shutdown, which would occur July 1 if the governor and Legislature fail to reach a budget agreement by June 30. Therefore, any professionals whose licenses expire during a shutdown – be they nurses, pharmacists, etc. – will then be unable to practice.

Why is the state government facing a shutdown?

The Republican majority in the legislature passed a budget with $1 billion in funding losses for our hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. Governor Dayton vetoed that budget, and now the state faces a shutdown. If the Republican budget passed, it would put thousands of our jobs at risk and cut off thousands of Minnesotans from access to basic medical care. Worst of all, it would balance the budget on the backs of our seniors and people with disabilities – which is exactly what these legislators promised not to do. Governor Dayton’s budget proposal asks the richest 2% of Minnesotans to pay more so we can maintain quality healthcare and long-term care. The rest of us would not pay a dime more in taxes.

What can I do to speak out against the shutdown?

Join SEIU and our allies at a Shutdown Eve vigil on Thursday, June 30th from 9pm-11pm on the steps of the Capitol. RSVP here.

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Rep. Patti Fritz: Standing up for Long Term Care

In this video from our friends at Minnesota 2020, Rep. Patti Fritz speaks up, as she always has, for seniors and long term care workers.

Patti knows firsthand what it means to be a caregiver.  Before being elected to office, Patti was a licensed practical nurse for over 30 years in Faribault and a proud member of our union.  In addition to serving the people of Faribault at the state legislature, Patti also serves on the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Executive Board.

Keep up the fight, Patti!

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Rockin’ the Capitol – RESPECT Rally

On May 3rd, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota rallied together outside the State Capitol with seniors, care providers and long-term care supporters to tell lawmakers to “respect” seniors by protecting long-term care services from budget cuts.

Emma Woodard, CNA and SEIU HCMN Executive Board Member

“I’m here today to speak firsthand about how nursing homes cuts affect real people.  Right now, there are a lot of dollar figures flying around.  In all of the overheated debate, we can lose track of the real people behind those numbers.  I see and touch them every day,” spoke Emma Woodard, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota Executive Board member and certified nursing assistant at Providence Place in Minneapolis.

“Caregivers do this job because we love our residents.  I don’t expect to get rich, but I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my health.  I work one of the most dangerous jobs in America, but I cannot afford health insurance for myself or my family. The legislature must stand on the side of caregivers and their residents.”

The rally, which featured Alive and Kickin’ – a senior rock and roll choir, was sponsored by The Long-Term Care Imperative, AARP, Seniors and Workers for Quality Care and Minnesota Leadership Council on Aging.

Check out more pictures from the rally!

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State Rep. Patti Fritz Proposes Nursing Home Rate Increase; Executive Board Member Sonja Lemire Testifies In Favor of Bill

State Rep. Patti Fritz, who is also a member of our union and herself a Licensed Practical Nurse of over 35 years, introduced a bill in the state legislature that would increase nursing home rates by 4 percent, with 75 percent of the money going directly to wage increases and benefits.

Rep. Fritz pointed out that this bill’s increases don’t even catch up to inflation, saying “Today we’re asking for 4 percent; we are 20 percent behind.”

Sonja Lemire, a member of our Executive Board and an LPN at Parkview Care Center in Buffalo, said low staffing levels mean residents don’t get the dignity they deserve.
“It’s almost not humanly possible to give quality care or prevent accidents with current reimbursement rates.”
There are 30 residents in her memory-care unit, and she is the only nurse in charge during an eight-hour shift, resulting in a ratio of about 16 minutes per person.

With our state budget deficit, it is highly unlikely that this bill will pass, but we know that Patti is fighting for us every day!

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