we begin a new year and a new legislative session, it is time to bring about a
New Year’s resolution to the issues of caring for our most vulnerable friends,
family and neighbors.
I am Marianne Moore, State Senator for District 6.
we were able to provide a small increase in funding for our nursing homes on
the last day of the last legislative session in June, the need is still great
and it just got much greater. A large part of the need has to do with the
increased cost of paying employees to work in these facilities. As of this week
the minimum wage in Maine has increased again for the third straight year.
these government mandated increases in labor costs, the state has not increased
the Medicaid reimbursement rates to these facilities so that they can keep up.
Lambrew of the Department of Health and Human Services tells us her staff has
placed the need for nursing homes at an additional $7 million for this fiscal
the same time, she says that DHHS has $31 million in unspent Medicaid funds and
we are very hopeful that Governor Mills will authorize the Commissioner to use
some of those funds to head off a further crisis. If this required new
legislation, I have little doubt there would be unanimous support for a
Governor’s bill that makes this happen.
nursing homes have closed, or in order to avoid closing, some of them have
shifted to MaineCare-funded assisted living facilities, also known as “Private
Non-Medical Institutions” or PNMIs. Adult Family Care Homes are also small
assisted living facilities.
nursing homes cannot survive in rural areas because of their high operational
costs. When that happens, smaller assisted living facilities may be part
of the solution and allow seniors to stay close to their community. Often these
residents are able to “age in place” and avoid the need to transfer to a
living is an important part of Maine’s continuum of care. With Maine’s
expanding elder population and the limited number of nursing home beds, their
value in the community will only increase.
average PNMI resident is 83-years old. 70% of these residents are women. 88%
have no spouse. Over half have Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of
dementia, and 77% are MaineCare beneficiaries.
have given up their homes to live in a PNMI and many are eligible for nursing
home level of care.
has achieved a more balanced, cost effective, long-term care system because of
PNMIs. Converting 40% of our nursing home beds to create PNMI assisted living
has saved the state millions of Medicaid dollars over the last 20 years.
these savings, however, MaineCare rates have not kept pace with increasing
costs of care.
leaves today’s PNMIs in a precarious financial position, and at risk of closure.
While Maine uses the term PNMI, 48 states provide some form of Medicaid
assisted living for their elderly and disabled populations. Maine can preserve
it by providing a reasonable MaineCare rate increase in the biennial budget.
this end, LD 935 was carried over from the last session to this upcoming one as
part of the Special Appropriations Table. It includes a modest but necessary
increase to the MaineCare reimbursement rate for PNMIs and I sincerely hope the
legislature can act in a positive way on this bill.
have one constituent in Calais in my district who has shifted his nursing home
facility to assisted living in order to continue to provide care. He believes
that without passage of this bill and its funding, he will have to close his
facility, leaving his clients without the care they need.
we look to stabilizing our nursing home facilities in Maine, we must also look
at the growing and critical needs of these assisted living centers to be sure
they, too, are able to continue to play a critical role in the overall care of
our seasoned citizens.
Again, I am Marianne Moore, State Senator for District 6, wishing you and yours a Happy and Prosperous New Year!