Bipartisan legislation aimed at ensuring quality, sustainable care for Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens was introduced recently.

The bill, authored by District 16 Sen. Gary Dahms would raise the state’s reimbursement rate for home-based and community-based services by 4 percent for each of the next two years.

“Nowhere is the lack of qualified direct-care professionals felt more than in our rural communities,” said Dahms. “This bill requires the rate increases will be passed on directly to providers, giving people with disabilities access to skilled and professional caregivers.”

“Consistent, quality direct-care staff are the foundation of community-based services for people with disabilities,” said Ric Nelson, president and CEO of New Ulm-based MBW Company. “If we do not address the workforce shortage, the entire system will crumble. “Just like maintenance of roads and bridges, we must invest today in order to have a sustainable system. People’s lives are really on the line.”

Reimbursement rates have lagged behind inflation over the past 10 years. These providers are often some of the largest employers in rural communities.

“By raising the reimbursement rate, we can do our part in supporting people with physical and intellectual disabilities in their pursuit of dignified, meaningful lives,” Dahms said.

Dahms is in his third term representing Senate District 16. He also serves as assistant majority leader.