Over the weekend, Lori Sturdevant of the Star Tribune wrote a thoughtful opinion piece on the critical need for Minnesota to change the way we pay for long-term care. The article was the result of a meeting several weeks ago with six key leaders who represent a diverse cross-section of section of Minnesota’s business and civic circles.

This is exactly the kind of attention this problem demands. The apparent demise of the federal CLASS Act is disappointing evidence that we cannot wait for someone else to address the serious and imminent challenge of funding long-term care, particularly for the poorest and most frail seniors.

During the meeting with Sturdevant, Eric Schubert with Ecumen hit the nail on the head: “This is a Minnesota problem with an opportunity for a Minnesota solution.”

Exactly. So are we up to the challenge?

There are no silver bullets when it comes to this issue. Our success depends on our ability to develop a system of options and avenues designed to empower individuals to take greater control over their future, while also strengthening the safety net for those most in need.

Creative, strategic measures, products, services and systems will combine to transform the way we save and pay for long-term care. After touring the state talking to Minnesotans of all ages and backgrounds, the Citizens League created a report titled “Moving Beyond Medicaid” that offers up several examples of the kinds of solutions that could make a real difference.

Gayle Kvenvold of Aging Services of Minnesota highlighted many of the measures in the Citizens League report, as well as additional insight and urgency on this topic in a recent opinion piece in the Star Tribune.

And on January 12th, top experts from across the country and right here in Minnesota will gather at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota for a day-long forum on this very topic. The fourth annual Long-Term Care Financing Solutions Forum is free and open to the public. It is an opportunity to look closer at the very real and practical ways Minnesota can be a leader on this issue, as we have in so many other areas of our health care system.

Slowly but surely, there has been a notable increase in public discussion about the urgent need to change the way we plan and pay for long-term care. This is a welcome development and critically important to our success – but if we aren’t able to harness talk into action, we will fail.

Will Minnesota wait for someone else to solve this problem, or will we step up with our own solutions?