Weekly Radio Address: Senator Lachowicz says Governor LePage’s 11th hour push for nursing homes stands in sharp contrast with three years of harm he has inflicted on Maine’s seniors
Good Morning. This is State Senator Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville.
One of the reasons I ran for the State Senate is to help our seniors. And I’m especially proud to be a member of the state’s Health and Human Services Committee where we spent much of our time troubleshooting challenges facing our aging population.
And so as a first term lawmaker, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that the governor was falsely accusing Democrats of failing to fund our nursing homes.
When I first heard that Governor LePage flipped the script and blamed Democrats for not doing enough to help our seniors, I scratched my head…figuring Governor LePage forgot about all that the Democrats and the Legislature did this session to help our seniors, including a big bump in funding for Maine’s nursing homes.
I also wondered if Governor LePage remembered that a bill sponsored by my colleague increased funding to our nursing homes by $12 million starting in just six weeks on July 1st.
I figured he also forgot about the bipartisan, nearly unanimous budget that allocated $10 million—with a federal match of more than $16 million— for our nursing homes for the next two years. Governor LePage vetoed that bill too.
So to recap, just this session, and in spite of Governor LePage’s obstruction and objection, the Legislature funded nursing homes to the tune of $38 million.
Governor LePage’s 11th hour push for nursing homes stands in sharp contrast with three years of harm he has inflicted on Maine’s seniors.
In 2011, Governor LePage tried to cut $60 million in funding to assisted living facilities—sixty million dollars to pay for his tax cuts to the wealthiest Mainers. This would have booted 4,000 seniors from their homes.
Last year, Governor LePage proposed cutting the Drugs for the Elderly program that helps seniors pay for their lifesaving medication. If he got his way, 35,000 seniors would have lost access to their medication.
Governor LePage has also proposed cuts to programs that make it easier for our elders to stay in their homes—and out of nursing homes—like Meals on Wheels and respite services for people with Alzheimer’s.
And none of us can forget about the failed MaineCare transportation system that has literally left our elderly neighbors standing on the side of the road.
Governor LePage has waged an incessant attack on revenue sharing—which if cut, would have raised property taxes and hit older Mainers the hardest—making it harder for them to afford living in their homes.
I am not going to question Governor LePage’s new found interest in protecting our seniors. It’s the right thing do. But I am going to ask all of us to question what the best approach should be: refusing to work with others to get something done by yelling, screaming, and berating your colleagues? Or putting your head down, showing up, and problem solving what our seniors need.
As a social worker, I can tell you that I believe whole-heartedly that we need to be doing everything we can for our aging Mainers. We need to make sure our nursing homes have the resources they need. And, we need to ensure that seniors can remain in their homes as long as it’s safe and they want to be there.
Older Mainers deserve our attention—and they need our care. They are our parents, our aunts and uncles, and grandparents—and some day it will be us.
I hope that we can work together to solve these and other problems affecting Maine’s citizens. I think our role as elected officials means working together. Our seniors deserve that from us.
Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville. Have a great weekend—and a memorable Mother’s Day.