The second largest slice of the state budget goes to health and human services. The goal of a daylong meeting was to put into larger context the long-term and continuing program pieces of that $9 billion slice.
“There’s a lot of money being spent,” said Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls), who chaired the joint meeting of the House Health Care and Human Services Finance Division and the House Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee.
The impending “age wave” of baby boomers moving into their senior years raises questions about the sustainability of the state’s current long-term care model, which includes nursing home care and, increasingly, programs to help seniors remain in their own homes.
The message from the director of Aging and Adult Services Division Director Jean Wood was echoed throughout other testimony: With the approaching age demographic imbalance, “there is not enough public funding to provide the level of service that the state does now,” and there is a need to be more strategic about the services and target them to people with the most need.
Medicaid eligibility for long-term care services, aging and adult services grants, and the impact of the federal health care reform on long-term care services were among topics covered during the meeting.
Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Mpls) was one of several committee members stressing the need for more wellness education as a way to prevent expensive long-term care stays.
“One of the issues is to do more prevention to slow down the road to frailty,” she said.
Also emphasized is the continued need to find ways to keep people in their homes, which could include educating people on aging issues and the importance of planning for the future.