Let’s Act Together Now to Ensure Maine’s Elderly and Sick Have Access to the Care They Need

Sen. Jeff Timberlake Delivers This Week’s Senate Republican Radio Address

This is Senate Republican Leader Jeff Timberlake of Androscoggin with the Weekly Republican Radio Address. 

Recently I attended a meeting with Central Maine Healthcare and members of the Androscoggin Delegation.  At this meeting it was presented to us that unless there is a testing exemption to Governor Mills’ vaccine mandate, the healthcare system will be forced to ration care due to lack of staffing.  This is not just a central Maine problem. All of Maine’s health systems are facing this crisis as the mandate deadline of November 1st looms. 

This week I sent a letter with my counterpart Representative Dillingham in the House requesting the Presiding Officers of the State Legislature to call for us to convene to address this problem by passing a bill that amends the Governor’s mandate allowing for a testing exemption. This is the policy solution sought by a Maine hospital.

A testing exemption is the policy that was in place for the last year and worked without incident. 

A bill amending the Governor’s mandate that allows for healthcare workers to provide a weekly negative test would ensure that our hospitals and nursing facilities can continue to serve Mainers.  Already this week we have seen the suspension of certain units because of the lack of staffing.  This rationing of care will only get worse as we get closer to the November 1st deadline imposed by the Governor. 

Action is required to ensure empty ICU beds are available to those who need them; action is required to prevent six hour long waits in our emergency rooms.  Action is required to serve our minority communities. Action is required to protect Maine’s elderly by getting them into long term care and out of the hospital setting.

There has already been one more nursing home closure this week.

This is a self-imposed health crisis created by the Governor.  Mainers shouldn’t be denied access to healthcare because the Governor refuses to now act to undo her mandate and keep hospital and nursing beds available.

It is our responsibility to now act to remove this self-imposed rationing of care.  The impact of refusing to act will have on Mainers is devastating across health systems.  From our nursing homes, who will be unable to take new patients, which will further limit the beds available at our hospitals, to EMS workers responsible for getting emergency cases to the hospitals, we are heading to a breaking point. 

For 18 months our healthcare workers showed up to work and served Mainers in need and now a mandate threatens their ability to do their jobs and its impact will be felt by all Mainers. 

It doesn’t have to happen. The Governor can change her mandate or the Legislature can intercede to impose limits on the Governor’s power and impose a testing exemption itself to protect our health system.  What is required is just admitting the current policy doesn’t work and we need to change course before further damage is done, or lives are lost. 

Legislative Republicans stand ready to act. We just need our democrat colleagues to join us to prevent needless suffering at the hands of misguided policy.  Let’s act together now to ensure Maine’s elderly and sick have access to the care they need and get out of the way of Maine’s exceptional healthcare workers so they can just do their jobs.

This has been Senate Republican Leader Jeff Timberlake with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.

Thank you for listening

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