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Minnesota to Require Counseling Before Entering Assisted Living

State officials in Minnesota have approved mandatory counseling for seniors who intend to enter assisted living facilities. The measure will take effect on October 1. The state argues it will save $3.8 million in the next two years, because incorrect placement and financially unstable seniors are a burden on taxpayers. But employees of assisted living facilities are upset that the decision was not put to the public.

“It didn’t come up as a bill,” said president and CEO of CareProviders of Minnesota Patti Cullen. “It didn’t come up as an amendment. It didn’t come up as a topic. [...] We didn’t bring it up. It wasn’t in the governor’s budget. It wasn’t anywhere. It showed up in the cone of silence.”

CareProviders of Minnesota represents 600 long-term care facilities in the state. Cullen feels the counseling program should include exemptions for emergency placement and weekend hospital transfers, so that urgent situations are not delayed because of the new requirements. Department of Human Services Assistant Commissioner Loren Coleman says while the details of the rules are still being examined, there should not be lags in placement. While Cullen doesn’t believe counseling should be mandatory, she says she does recognize and support the need for more information to those looking into assisted living.

State representatives believe the measure is necessary to manage the costs of senior care. State representative Jim Abeler cites the state’s aging population as a major concern. “The challenge is to place people in the correct site,” said Abeler, chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee. “If you actually do that, it’s actually less expensive and a better quality of life for the people.”

DHS’s Coleman says seniors can opt out of the counseling. However, in order to do so, they must first provide information such as their name, address, and date of birth. In exchange, they are given a number that must be on file in their assisted living facility.

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