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Bill Allows New Construction to Consolidate Long Term Care Facilities


Senator Wayne Steinhauer is working to clarify regulations on assisted living and nursing homes with Senate Bill 139. He wants to encourage consolidating long-term care options and make it easier to replace a closed or out-of-date facility.

The bill allows construction of a new facility if it consolidates or merges with another long-term service provider.

Senator Steinhauer says improving services can help grow a business and make up for the long distances between facilities in rural parts of the state. He says more than a dozen communities have a nursing home but not an assisted living facility, and vice versa.

“We don’t have aging in place in roughly 38 communities that have some sort of long-term services for the elderly," Steinhauer says. "Aging in place allows an individual to go in when they have minimal needs, and as they progress through onto nursing home they stay there. It’s best for them, especially if you’re experiencing dementia.”

Other proponents agree the bill opens the door for more innovative approaches to care. The only opposing testimony came from Lynne Valenti with the Department of Health on the grounds that it’s unnecessary under existing statute.

“Current language—more specifically subdivision 5—permits the new construction of a replacement facility to improve physical conditions which are related to operational or functional deficiencies. This is a catch-all provision or section,” Valenti explains. 

But the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee agrees with the clarifying intent of the bill. It heads to the Senate floor with a unanimous vote.