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Press Release

August 24, 2015

DHHS to Fund Waitlists, Meals on Wheels with Welfare Reform Savings

$3.24 million in TANF savings due to 60-month cap being repurposed to help elderly Mainers

AUGUSTA – Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Mary Mayhew announced on Monday that the Department has increased funding to home care services for the elderly and the Meals on Wheels program using savings from the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant—savings realized by the LePage Administration’s 60-month cap on TANF benefits and other reforms.

“We are committed to reprioritizing Maine’s welfare system to best serve our neediest elderly and disabled neighbors,” said Commissioner Mayhew. “The hard and often-criticized work of reforming Maine’s welfare system is paying off with this new initiative to care for the elderly in their homes.”

The Department is directing $3.24 million in surplus funds from the state’s TANF block grant to cover allowable expenses for other programs in the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), which in turn will make that funding available to support four distinct programs to help elderly Mainers: Meals on Wheels, Consumer-Directed Home Based Care, Homemaker Services/Independent Support Services, and the Home Based Care wait list.

Providers have already been notified of the enhanced funding they will receive and are showing support for the move.

“This is a very proactive and innovative move from DHHS to get funding where it is needed most,” said Betsy Sawyer-Manter of Seniors Plus. “Seniors Plus is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations and grants, and finding the funding required to meet the needs of Maine’s seniors is a consistent challenge. With this new funding, we can begin to take care of many of those who have been on waitlists.”

“For too long before this Administration, able-bodied young adults were given priority in Maine’s welfare system,” added Commissioner Mayhew. “The federal government has put up consistent roadblocks to Governor Paul LePage’s mission to prioritize the elderly and disabled. However, we are pleased to be able to announce that we are moving forward with this repurposing of federal and state funds to continue our important mission of reforming Maine’s welfare system.”

BACKGROUND: Distribution of Funding

1. Meals on Wheels
    a. Is a meals program with home delivery for the homebound.
    b. Has a wait list of 69 people.
    c. Has five contracts through the five Area Agencies on Aging. We are increasing the current allocation by adding $131, 539.
       i. Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging: $35,897 for 18 people
       ii. Seniors Plus: $22,480 for 12 people
       iii. Central Maine Area Agency on Aging: $33,950 for 17 people
       iv. Eastern Area Agency on Aging: $28,189 for 15 people
       v. Aroostook Area Agency on Aging: $11,023 for 6 people
2. Consumer Directed Home Based Care
    a. Personal Assistance Services, Skills Training for adults at least 18 years old with physical disabilities who need help with daily activities and are able to direct own care.    Copays are for 4% of monthly income; 3% of assets over $30,000
    b. Has a wait list of 55 people.
    c. We are adding $1,039,500 to the Alpha One Contract: ADS-16-9702
3. Home Based Care
    a. Five levels of service based on degree of functional impairment. Includes: Personal Care, Respite, Homemaking, Nursing, Nonmedical Transport, Adult Day Care
    b. Has a wait list of 64 people.
    c. We are adding $894,456 to the contract with Seniors Plus: ADS-16-3351
4. Homemaker Services/Independent Support Services (ISS)
    a. Homemaking, routine cleaning, main meal preparation, grocery shopping, laundry, transportation, some personal care for individuals who need assistance; eight hours per month
    b. Has a wait list of 908 people.
    c. We are adding $1,296,624 to the existing contract with Catholic Charities: ADS-16-9151.