Senior care should be taken seriously

By Jan Dolcater | May 31, 2014

Nursing homes in Maine do not receive adequate funding, according to recent records from the Commission to Study Long-term Care Facilities. Although the 126th Legislature provided $14 million in funding for Maine’s nursing homes, this will not be available to them until the fiscal 2015 budget. One nursing home in Calais has already closed and others are in serious jeopardy of closing because of lack of funds. Currently, there are more than 100 nursing homes in Maine that are reimbursed by the state, and approximately 70 percent of the residents in these homes are on Maine Care.

It is obvious to most legislators that additional funding is needed now and not at some undetermined date in the future. An effort was made in the final days of the current Legislative session by Gov. Paul LePage and the Republican leadership when they identified $ 5.1 million from the Tobacco Settlement Fund as possible funds to help alleviate the critical circumstances facing these nursing homes and their elderly residents. To address this situation, a bill was drafted by the Republican leadership to utilize the majority of this money to provide help for underfunded nursing homes. By allocating these funds for the nursing homes, they also would have garnered an additional $8 million in federal funding. In spite of the pressing needs of the nursing homes, the Democrat leadership of Alfond and Eves decided that these funds should be used instead for some of their pet projects — projects that were already funded by the Department of Health & Human Services. Seniors throughout Knox County and statewide should take notice of the lack of understanding and care provided by this Democrat leadership.

In a final effort to utilize these much-needed funds, the Republican leadership sent a letter to the Democrat leadership, asking that they consider a special session of the Legislature for the sole purpose of addressing this problem. Unfortunately, the Democratic leadership was not interested in helping our nursing homes; Alfond and Eves replied in a letter that they would not consider reconvening the 126th Legislature for any work.

Citizens be aware and take notice of who is not being thoughtful and caring of the financial stability of nursing homes in Maine and remember them at the ballot box in November. If this situation is not corrected, it could have negative effects on you or your loved ones.

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