AUGUSTA—The Maine Senate unanimously approved legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, that would support nursing homes, in an initial vote on Wednesday. The bill – LD 1758, “An Act To Clarify and Amend MaineCare Reimbursement Provisions for Nursing and Residential Care Facilities” – would increase reimbursement for nursing home facilities to ensure access to care in both rural and nonrural areas.
“Quality, affordable nursing home options ensure those aging Mainers can continue to live happy and fulfilling lives close to their loved ones. However, the cost of high care and low reimbursement rates from the state have made it difficult for these facilities to continue to provide critical care,” said President Jackson. “This bill is an opportunity to invest in these first-class facilities so they are there when we need them for ourselves and our family members.”
In Maine, seven nursing homes have closed in just the last 15 months and others are struggling to pay the bills. Six of those seven closed in 2018, leaving 250 nursing home residents displaced and 400 people without jobs.
Reports indicate that by 2030 the population of Mainers over 65 will increase by 47 percent. In 1995, Maine had 132 nursing homes, but today only 94 remain in operation. A report from the 2013 Commission to Study Long-term Care Facilities specifically noted the ongoing need for adequate reimbursement for facilities to ensure access in both rural and urban areas.
The bill is backed by Maine Health Care Association, First Atlantic Health Care, and LeadingAge Maine & New Hampshire. LD 1758 will now go before the House for additional votes before returning to the Senate, where it will likely be placed on the special appropriations table to await funding.