Sen. Linda Sanborn introduces bill to support Maine seniors
AUGUSTA — A bill introduced by Sen. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham, would support seniors living and aging in their own homes. LD 474, “Resolve, To Ensure the Health and Wellness of Older Residents of the State,” received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday.
“Aging at home can provide a higher quality of life and results in cost savings for seniors, their families and their caregivers,” said Sen. Sanborn. “This bill makes aging at home a more accessible option for Maine seniors. LD 474 will improve lives and save money.”
Current rules governing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program limit eligibility for households with over $5,000 in certain assets. LD 474 would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to request that the U.S. Department Agriculture waive this asset test for Maine households with an individual over the age of 60.
“The asset test is not only mean-spirited, but also counterproductive,” said Sen. Sanborn. “It works against the goal of helping seniors age at home and it makes institutionalization more likely, which is costlier to the state.”
LD 474 requires a two-year pilot project to test the viability of a statewide meal delivery program for seniors at risk of institutionalization and removes the waitlist for home-delivered meals for homebound individuals over the age of 60.
“Home delivered meals help people to stay in their homes longer, help them remain healthy, help them avoid unnecessary readmissions, help them heal faster and delays institutionalization,” said Sen. Sanborn.
Five Area Agencies on Aging administer the Meals on Wheels program in Maine, which currently has a statewide 400-person waitlist, according to testimony in favor of LD 474 from Gerard Queally, President and CEO of Spectrum Generations, the Central Maine Area Agency on Aging. The Eastern Area Agency on Aging, Southern Area Agency on Aging, Maine Council on Aging, and AARP Generations also gave testimony in support of LD 474.
LD 474 faces further action in the Health and Human Services Committee and votes in the Maine House and Senate.