Bellows’ bill to increase reimbursement rates receives public hearing
AUGUSTA — Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, on Monday presented a bill to increase home care reimbursement rates for Maine seniors. LD 2137, “Resolve, To Increase the Reimbursement Rates for Home-based Services,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.
“The looming closure of Home Care for Maine should be a wake up call for Augusta. We can’t expect agencies to serve our low-income seniors and people with disabilities if the state fails to cover its share of the cost,” said Sen. Bellows. “When the people we love can age in their own homes and communities, they, and all of us, are better for it. Personal care services are critical to helping seniors and people with disabilities stay in their homes, but this care cannot be provided if the agencies coordinating that care cannot afford to keep their doors open.”
LD 2137 would increase reimbursement rates for personal support and respite services, specifically Section 19 home-based care for the elderly and adults with disabilities, Section 96 private duty nursing and personal care services and state-funded home-based care services including consumer directed services.
“Currently, EIM reports that 10,000 hours/week of home care are unstaffed,” Brenda Gallant, Maine Long-Term Care Ombudsman, stated in written testimony submitted in support of the bill. “4,000 of those hours are for older adults and adults with disabilities who are nursing home eligible but want to remain at home. Without needed home care services, these individuals are at risk.”
“After a lifetime of working and paying taxes, many older and disabled adults utilize MaineCare to supplement their Medicare healthcare benefits,” said Gerard Queally, President and CEO of Spectrum Generations, in testimony supporting the bill. “These are your parents, grandparents, your aunts and uncles, and your neighbors. And they need help in the activities of their daily life; if help is not available, they become sick, isolated, routinely hospitalized, and too often institutionalized at great expense to the taxpayer.”
George Ellsey, a personal support specialist with Home Care for Maine, also submitted testimony in support of the bill: “As time goes on, many workers have left for other lines of work, while the demand for home care only goes up. I take care of my clients so they can be happy and comfortable living in their home and in their community.”
LD 2137 faces further action in committee before being sent to the Maine Senate and House for votes.