State Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, visited Golden Horizons Assisted Living in Crosslake on Friday, May 3, to hear concerns from citizens.
She spoke to a crowd of around 15 people, from both inside and outside of Golden Horizons, on a wide range of topics, but mainly on health care and long-term care.
“I think the state’s priorities are going in the wrong direction,” Ruud said.
She said she’s working to raise awareness for the need for funding for long-term care, saying it’s been cut to the “bare bones.”
Wendy Christensen, administrator at Golden Horizons, agreed. She said long-term care has always been a squeeze, but the squeeze comes not only to the facilities and employees but also to the seniors.
“They are the ones who pay the price,” Christensen said.
When discussing pharmaceuticals and health care further, Ruud said she felt that the less government involvement, the better.
She wants to get rid of regulations, which she said drive up costs. She mentioned the hoops staff have to jump through to get wheelchairs and hospital beds for those who need them.
Ruud discussed the Minnesota health care exchange, which she said is flawed. Because no one can be denied health care because of a pre-existing condition, she believes healthy people will not purchase health care until they’re sick, and those healthy individuals are needed to fund the system.
She added that many legislators, including her, feel their hands are tied on health care as they wait to see how new national laws will affect the state.
She disagrees with a bill regarding mandatory nurse staffing. The bill would require a certain number of nurses to a certain number of patients.
“I trust hospitals to know how many people they need,” Ruud said, rather than having law make that determination. That bill passed in the Senate, but is not yet law, she said.
On the topic of education, Ruud believes schools don’t mind the school shift because of the interest earned when money is borrowed.
She’s displeased with the elimination of graduation standards tests and teachers’ standards tests.
“We’re in competition globally. When you take away standards, I think we’re going in the wrong direction,” she said.
She also talked about children who are here illegally. She said they are eligible for in-state tuition and may apply for grants.
“They compete with our Minnesota kids for getting into college and grant money,” she said.
She said the state is paying to educate people who won’t be able to work in the state once they’ve graduated due to lack of documentation.
“We need to work at a federal level to change that. They should have a path to citizenship, but that process should have started a long time ago,” she said, adding that the issue can’t be solved at a state level.
Ruud also talked about the expansion of sales tax, which she said “hurts our families.”
Using her granddaughter as an example, Ruud said that taxing music lessons and camps would affect young people. Seniors would also be affected, she said, noting that many live on a fixed income.
Ruud encouraged anyone who wanted to make change to write to the majority party and express their opinions. She said email is the primary route for communication, and a personal email is usually read by the legislator himself or herself.