Minnesota legislature passes major protections for the elderly

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Two weeks ago, Minnesota’s state legislature passed one of the most comprehensive bills to address elderly protections in generations. The 168-page law addressed a variety of different issues that had been plaguing Minnesota’s elderly community. Arguably the most significant aspect of elderly care in Minnesota that the Elder Care and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019 changed was that the licensures for assisted-living facilities.

The new bill mandates that all assisted-living facilities that serve the elderly must be licensed by the state and inspected on a regular basis to assure that proper standards are maintained. Prior to the passage of the legislation, Minnesota was the only state to have still allowed such facilities to operate without being officially licensed by the state government.

This allowed for a series of problems within these quasi-clandestine facilities such as higher levels of violence, sexual assault, and robbery. In fact, federal analysts had found that nearly a quarter of all of the nursing homes in Minnesota were operating at a subpar level that would be prevalent for neglect.

Studies had found that over the past few years the prevalence of elder abuse in Minnesota and surrounding states had been increasing at an alarming rate as well. Utah officials reported that cases of elder abuse in their state had increased by 40% of the previous 3 years. All of these factors have led to national cries for legislators to address the matter. While Elder Care and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act has passed a vote, many say the problem is far from fixed.

For one, activists are warning that the capacities of the bill will be neutered before it is even enacted. State legislators still need to figure out how to implement Minnesota’s elder protection. That means that the bill will have to enter a lengthy rulemaking process which could result in severe restrictions being put on the new law.

Although the law passed with bipartisan support, the nuances of the bill such as the details of the new standards to be imposed on assisted-living facilities have caused a fair bit a political tension. Advocates are pressing that partisanship is put aside when it comes to implementing the law so that disagreements regarding minor matters don’t stop the bill in its tracks entirely.

While the bill has passed the vote by the Minnesota state legislature, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done before elders start seeing tangible benefits within their care facilities. Regardless, Minnesota is taking steps to move in the right direction considering how lax its standards and policies were regarding assisted-living facilities before the passage of the bill.

While Minnesotans will still have to wait and see exactly how the situation plays out, there is no doubt that the Elder Care and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act is a big win for elders in the land of ten thousand lakes.

With a passion for politics and a love for writing, Avery Coleman is a contributor to Red Blue Divide — a website devoted to informing, engaging, and inspiring political debate. Her only vice in life, a ridiculous amount of coffee — black. Coleman has previously contributed to Independent Voter Network.

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