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Guest Opinions: Support our state's seniors

This year 60,000 Minnesotans will turn 65. Why is this important? According to the Minnesota State Demographic Center, this trend will continue for the next 15 years. By 2030, the number of seniors in our state could reach 900,000. That figure is...

This year 60,000 Minnesotans will turn 65.

Why is this important? According to the Minnesota State Demographic Center, this trend will continue for the next 15 years. By 2030, the number of seniors in our state could reach 900,000. That figure is more than double the current population of the city of Minneapolis. As the state's largest population group ages, the need for long-term care will continue to increase.

Unfortunately, funding for long-term care facilities has not kept pace with the demographics. My dad is currently one of those who have entered the phase of requiring long-term care. At some point in the future, you or your loved ones may need long-term care. Inadequate funding for such facilities can have a significant impact on staffing levels, which can directly affect quality of care.

How can Minnesotans prepare for the future?

The most effective way to make a difference this legislative session is to support House File 316 and its companion bill in the Senate, Senate File 273. Both bills would greatly improve the reimbursement payment system for Minnesota's long-term care facilities. HF 316 is a result of bipartisan effort, and it affords the greatest likelihood of helping seniors across the state during this legislative session.

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One resource that takes all the guesswork out of contacting legislators and making a difference on this issue is Leading Age Minnesota, an organization that advocates for the rights of Minnesota's seniors and their caregivers. Their website provides direct and free access to contact your local representatives.

How do you get to their website and start taking action?

• Visit: cqrcengage.com/mhha/home

• Click on the button reading "Join Now" under the "Join our Action Network" header.

• Fill in your information and hit register.

• Once you register you will have access to all the sample letters you could send to your legislators.

If you want to personalize one of the sample letters, it is easy to do.

Let's make sure that the elders in our state - the same people who raised us, who taught us, who served our communities and our country - know that we are fighting for their dignity and care. After all, they've earned it.

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Please contact your lawmakers, and urge them to support HF 316/SF 273.

Matt Fort is a resident of Baxter

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