Maine Senate Republicans Continue Efforts to Save Senior Care

MEDIA ADVISORY        February 23, 2020

This week, Senate Republicans will continue their months-long effort to raise awareness and encourage action on the inadequacy of funding for Maine’s nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care agencies. Below is a partial list of these efforts made since the last legislative session.

While Senate Republicans support the newly introduced bill to finally fund these facilities adequately, the bill will face difficulty in successfully competing with other priorities set by Governor Mills in her Supplemental Budget.

The bill is also unnecessary as the funding is already in place. Last November, Sen. James Hamper asked DHHS Commissioner Lambrew if she would consider spending some of the $30.5 million in excess Medicaid funds held by her department on senior care reimbursements. She declined. That money is still sitting idle and could be redirected to support senior care.

Partial Summary of Senate Republican Efforts to Save Senior Care

June 20            Senate Republicans spend all of the money allocated to them for the Appropriations table to fund two bills, Sen. Jackson’s LD 1758 for nursing homes, and Sen. Timberlake’s LD 1125 to support nursing homes and residential care facilities. Democrats made no allocation for Sen. Jackson’s bill either in the budget or from the table.

August 26        Assistant Senate Republican Leader Timberlake’s floor speech on nursing home reimbursement rates. (Link)

August 29        Senate Republicans express confusion and sadness at Gov. Mills’ decision to hold Sen. Jackson’s LD 1758, preventing it from becoming law and withholding the allocated funds for six months. Senate Democrats had no response to the governor’s action. (Link)

August 30        In a radio address, Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jeff Timberlake addressed Gov. Mills’ actions halting LD 1758. (Link)

November 14   During a meeting of the Appropriations Committee, Senator James Hamper asked DHHS Commissioner Lambrew if she will commit to spending some of the $30.5 million in unspent Medicaid funds on senior care reimbursements. The commissioner replied that she would take no action until the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2020) and would hold that money in case of unexpected costs that could be accrued. (Audio of the Commissioner’s response: Link)

At that meeting, Commissioner Lambrew stated that the need to fund nursing homes (via LD 1758) was $7 million. She explained her refusal to use the unspent Medicaid funds by saying that it was the administration’s approach to seek General Fund or Other Special Revenue funds instead of using available reserves. (Audio of the commissioner’s response: Link)

Two months later, Governor Mills released her proposed Supplemental Budget that did not include funding for LD1758 or other senior care needs.

November 21   Senate Republicans call for agreement to fund nursing homes with the $30+ million in new, unexpected revenue reported by the State Controller. (Link)

December 9     Senate Republicans issued a statement after Governor Mills finally agreed to release Sen. Jackson’s nursing home bill and allow it to become law. (Link)

January 3        In a radio address, Sen. Marianne Moore raised the $30.5 in unspent Medicaid funds at DHHS and again asked the Mills administration and Democrats to support spending some of those funds on nursing homes and “MaineCare-funded assisted living facilities, also known as Private Non-Medical Institutions or PNMIs, adult family care homes, and assisted living facilities.” She received no response. (Link)

February 20    Statement of Senate Republicans on Senator Bellows’ Press Conference. (Link)

February 24    Senate Republicans Again Call on Democrats to Solve the Senior Care Crisis Today. (Link)

This list does not include numerous radio, television, and newspaper interviews at which Senate Republicans expressed these views.

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