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MDH Commissioner Statement

Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm issued this statement on the conclusion of the 2018 Minnesota Legislative Session and Governor Dayton’s veto of the omnibus spending bill:

At the start of the 2018 session, we called for action to enhance the rights of vulnerable adults and strengthen regulatory oversight of long-term care settings. In the end, the legislature failed Minnesota seniors on both counts.

After a good start working with legislators and stakeholders, it was disheartening to see the legislature fail to meet the basic requests of Governor Dayton, bipartisan lawmakers, and consumer advocacy organizations working to stop elder abuse. Despite the tremendous importance of this issue, legislative leaders ignored the Governor’s repeated call for a stand-alone bill. As a result, lost in the politics of the omnibus spending bill, there was little to no effort to find compromise among the key parties in face-to-face meetings where we might have been able to work out key details.

Minnesota remains one of the few states that does not license assisted living facilities, a rapidly growing segment of the long-term care industry. The legislation passed at the end of session and vetoed by Governor Dayton would have done nothing to ensure licensure or protections for assisted living or dementia care. Making matters worse, the bill would have undermined progress already made in the Office of Health Facility Complaints (OHFC) by directing new funding to be used solely for a case management system. This would have narrowed the scope of our work and made it harder to achieve the broader gains we are seeking.

The language in the omnibus bill relied purely on government for enforcement of laws, denying private legal remedies to those who suffer preventable harm or death at a long-term care facility. In addition, the bill failed to provide basic appeal rights for vulnerable people being evicted from their places of residence.

We have made encouraging progress working with the Minnesota Department of Human Services. By March 1, we had eliminated a backlog of more than 2,300 cases awaiting triage at the beginning of the year. We have implemented new practices and systems in OHFC to improve the speed and consistency of our complaint investigation process.

We remain focused on doing all we can within the existing resource and policy framework to empower seniors and their families while maintaining an effective and efficient regulatory program that holds providers accountable.

For more information, contact:

Michael Schommer

MDH Communications



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