This week, I kept a promise that I made during my State of the State Address earlier this year to knock down the silos of state government and better serve every person in Maine as they age.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.
From my first days in office, my Administration has focused on helping people in Maine age comfortably in the communities they love.
One of the first things we did was to release the voter-approved senior housing bonds that had been held up by my predecessor. These bonds, now issued, are building more than 200 new units for seniors and weatherizing 100 other units to make senior housing comfortable and affordable.
Then we reinstated the drugs for the elderly program, we enshrined access to health coverage for pre-existing conditions, and we expanded health insurance to tens of thousands more Maine people so they can afford high-quality healthcare as they age.
We’ve cut income taxes for retirees and we deferred property taxes for low-income Maine residents who are age 65 or older.
We’ve invested unprecedented funding to support nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
We stopped the closure of Maine Veterans’ Homes in Caribou and Machias.
We established the Elder Justice Coordinating Partnership to bring the public and private sectors together to prevent financial, emotional, and physical abuse and neglect of older Maine people.
Hey this is all progress, but the system of care for older Maine people still needs improvement.
This week, I took another step to enhance statewide coordination and serve older Maine people better. We created the Maine Cabinet on Aging.
Similar to our Children’s Cabinet, the Cabinet on Aging will mobilize several state government agencies to join forces and improve services for aging Maine people.
Chaired by Commissioner of Health and Human Services Jeanne Lambrew and Commissioner of Labor Laura Fortman, this new Cabinet will also include the commissioners of Economic and Community Development, Administrative and Financial Services, Professional and Financial Regulation, Public Safety, and Transportation, as well as the Director of the Maine State Housing Authority.
I have charged these individuals with meeting at least four times a year, beginning next month, to advance progress on issues such as affordable housing; long-term services and supports; financial security and protection against fraud; access to information, and broadband, and services; and engagement and employment in Maine’s growing economy. The Cabinet will reach out to older people, their families, their communities, and their support systems to gather input and ideas as it develops its action plan.
I’ve heard from so many seniors on my sixteen county tour lately – folks who want to be connected by broadband, who want to use telehealth from their homes, who want to stay connected to education and stay connected with their families elsewhere in this country and in this state. So connectivity is important, health care is important, being able to stay in your own home and access services is critical.
You know Maine people work hard their entire lives, and they deserve to be able to live safely and with dignity as they age right here in Maine and in the communities that they love.
By creating the Cabinet on Aging, I am mobilizing state government, cutting through the silos, making sure that that dream is a reality for older people all across Maine.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.