Sen. Bellows introduces emergency legislation to increase reimbursement rates for Maine seniors

Posted: February 12, 2020 | Senator Bellows

Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, filed emergency legislation to increase home care reimbursement rates for Maine seniors. Sen. Bellows will unveil details of the proposal next week.

“In Maine, we are in the midst of a crisis. My heart breaks for the dedicated, hardworking caregivers at Home Care for Maine and the families who trusted them to provide quality, personal care to their loved ones,” said Sen. Bellows. “The devastating closure of Home Care for Maine in Farmingdale has got to be a wakeup call. This is the result of decades worth of inadequate action that has kept reimbursement rates too low at the expense of Maine seniors and personal care workers. We have to be better. It’s time for Maine to step up.”

Access to quality, affordable long-term care has become a pressing issue for Maine seniors and their loved ones. Maine has experienced a decline in the number of nursing home facilities over the past several decades. Twelve nursing homes have closed since 2012; 94 nursing homes remain operational today. At the same time, Maine’s demographics are only getting older. A report from the 2013 Commission to Study Long-term Care Facilities specifically noted the ongoing need for adequate reimbursement for facilities to ensure access in both rural and urban areas. 

MaineCare reimbursement rates for long-term care have been largely stagnant over the last decade

Last year, the Maine Legislature passed a bill to form a commission to study the state’s long-term care workforce shortage. The commission reported its findings and recommendations, which include increasing reimbursement rates, to the Legislature earlier this month.

The Department of Health and Human Services is currently in the process of performing a rate review study to determine how to address the low MaineCare reimbursement rates and the impact on critical health services, and consequently, Maine people.

Bill requests submitted for consideration during the Second Regular Session must be approved by a majority of the 10-member Legislative Council. The measure currently is circulating through the legislative council via ballot for approval to go before the full legislature for consideration.