Maine lawmakers mulling long-term care funding

Members of Maine’s legislature are considering the recommendations of its Long-Term Care Facilities Study Commission as the state grapples with how to pay for the care of its aging population.

The 11-member commission of politicians and long-term care representatives, which began meeting last fall, issued a final report in December that contained 14 suggestions. Among them, notes the Portland Press Herald:

  • Funding. Commissioners are calling for an additional $10 million in state Medicaid funding to meet the costs associated with allowable nursing home and assisted living care. They also are proposing legislation that would re-establish cost-of-living adjustments to prevent funding shortfalls and would provide supplemental reimbursements to facilities where higher-than-average percentages of residents rely on Medicaid.
  • Errors. The proposed bill would direct the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to correct funding errors and technology issues associated with payments to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
  • More study. The legislation also would create the Commission to Continue the Study of Long-Term Care Facilities to study reimbursement, access and quality issues. Additionally, it would form the Blue Ribbon Commission on Long-Term Care, which would draft a new plan to provide long-term care, including home- and community-based services, to the state’s residents.

Maine has the highest resident median age (43.5 years), the highest proportion of baby boomers (29 percent) and the second-highest percent of residents aged 65 or more years (17 percent) of all states, according to the media outlet, citing U.S. Census Bureau data. The newspaper also says that the state has the ninth-highest private-pay rates in the country, according to the AARP, and commission members maintain that it’s because of cost-shifting due to lack of appropriate public funding.

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