(AUGUSTA, ME)—Last week, the Maine CDC revealed that nearly 60% of all COVID-related deaths in Maine have been among residents of long-term care facilities, including nursing homes (58.2%).
We have known for years now that nursing homes are desperately understaffed due to a lack of funding and this clearly has diminished the level of care they can provide. In recent news coverage, providers have called this a “dire” situation.
Yesterday, the Bangor Daily News reported that, despite extensive vaccinations, there are now 12 new outbreaks in Maine long-term care facilities from York County to Aroostook County. That’s more than the previous two months combined.
According to the Portland Press Herald, as late as last month, Maine had still not provided adequate vaccines for nursing homes. Now we have a dozen new outbreaks. This was easily predictable.
Last year, Maine received $1.25 billion in federal CARES Act money specifically for COVID-19 expenses. Governor Mills had complete and sole authority to allocate these funds.
This morning, the Department of Health and Human Services shared its list of actions supporting these facilities over the past year. This included a total of just 2% of the amount contained in the CARES Act funding.
This small amount included temporary rate increases through MaineCare and other rate increases for these facilities AFTER they had experienced outbreaks.
We need to stop neglecting the vulnerable Mainers in our long term care facilities once and for all. This must include additional funding for their greatest need—staffing.
The current revenue report shows that we have a $461 million surplus with another billion dollars in federal stimulus money headed our way. It also shows strong revenue growth over the next several years. There is more than enough money to properly fund these facilities both today and into the future and more than one bill in the pipeline to get the job done.
Senate Republican Leader Jeff Timberlake: “Senate Republicans have been advocating for increased funding for nursing homes for years and it is long past time to finally resolve this crisis. We have the money and the need could not be clearer.”
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Matt Pouliot: “As one of the oldest states in the nation, we do not have the luxury of neglecting these facilities that care for our most vulnerable citizens. The terrible impact of the pandemic on their residents has made this abundantly clear.”
Sen. Brad Farrin: “Representing a district that includes a nursing home which has lost at least seven residents to the pandemic, I was appalled to learn the depth of the problem and the lack of appropriate response. We need to resolve this problem in the quickest possible way.”