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Governor LePage Announces Additional Funding for Elderly in Nursing Homes

July 17, 2014

For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 17, 2014
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531 *Please note funding document linked below

AUGUSTA – With several Maine nursing homes on the brink of closure, Governor Paul R. LePage and Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew announced today that Maine nursing facilities will receive $25.4 million in additional funding in the upcoming fiscal year.

“Maine is one of the oldest states in the nation, and these nursing homes are critical to our seniors and the family members who care for them,” said Governor LePage. “As we prioritize spending within Maine’s Medicaid program, the elderly stand at the front of the line when it comes to needing our help.”

Underfunded by the state since 2005, many of Maine’s 106 nursing homes have been facing financial difficulties because of less-than-adequate Medicaid reimbursement rates. In fact, two have recently closed their doors.

“Democratic leadership chose to play politics and ignore our elderly by refusing to take action to fund the nursing homes,” said Governor LePage. “I offered a solution to lawmakers in April, but it was rejected. So I directed Commissioner Mayhew to do everything she could to find the money within DHHS. As a result of the department’s successful efforts to rein in spending in the Medicaid program, they were able to find the funding. When that revenue is combined with federal matching funds, our nursing homes will now receive $25.4 million.”

Today, Commissioner Mayhew explained where the additional state money was identified and how it will be allocated.

“Our ability to better manage the Medicaid program has led to virtually no growth in the program in State Fiscal Year 2014 and a reduction in growth in 2015,” stated Commissioner Mayhew. “Per the Governor’s direction, DHHS began working to identify a possible funding source to support this critical need. Now we can begin to prioritize spending and care for those who are most at risk.”

Since the Legislature adjourned in April, Governor LePage has requested lawmakers return to Augusta to address the nursing home funding shortage. Despite Republicans’ offer to reconvene and do the necessary work, Democratic leadership has refused to call the Legislature back. President Senate Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves sent a letter to Republican leadership indicating they would not be returning to do any work in Augusta. Even if the Governor were to call the Legislature back, Democratic leadership has the power to recess without taking any action.

Governor LePage said the decisions to reduce Maine’s Medicaid coverage to conform to federal requirements and not to expand taxpayer-funded health coverage to 100,000 additional able-bodied Mainers have been key factors in freeing up funds for nursing facilities.

“DHHS and the taxpayers of Maine do not have the ability or the resources to be all things to all people,’’ said the Governor. “That’s why we must set priorities that take care of our state’s most vulnerable people. The needs of our elderly, as well as people with developmental disabilities who remain waiting for services, are a priority of my administration.”

Today’s announcement took place in Augusta at the Maine Health Care Association. Rick Erb, president and CEO of Maine Health Care Association, which represents over 200 providers of long-term care, praised the Administration’s efforts to make Maine’s senior citizens a top priority.

“I learned of this news today and am pleased to hear of it. On behalf of Maine’s nursing homes, we are deeply appreciative of the Administration’s efforts to provide the level of funding these facilities require for our seniors,” said Erb. “Adding these funds to what was appropriated by the legislature is a big step forward and puts our nursing homes in a better position to serve the needs of our elderly throughout the State of Maine.”

Each of Maine’s remaining 104 facilities statewide will receive funding. The rate increase is expected to take effect retroactively July 1.

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