Republican Leaders Urge Senate President and House Speaker to Act on Nursing Home Funding Shortage
Below is a letter from Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau and House Republican Leader Ken Fredette to Legislative Leadership
Dear President Alfond and Speaker Eves,
As you are aware, Maine’s nursing homes are in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis that could force some of them to close in the near future.
The good news is that we in the Maine Legislature are in a position to take action to make these facilities solvent and, in some cases, keep their doors open. That is why we are dismayed at your reluctance to even discuss using money that is still available to benefit our elderly citizens until January 2015 when the 127th Legislature convenes.
A recent study showed that Maine nursing homes are underfunded by about $30 million per year. This chronic inability of the state to meet its financial obligation caused one nursing home in Washington County to close in 2012. State officials now say that more of them are at risk of closing. In the most recent state budget, we did increase funding for nursing homes, but much of it won’t be available until July, 2015.
We cannot afford to wait that long. Time is not on our side.
In the final days of the Legislative session, we were able to identify $5.1 million in available funding that could be used for immediate relief to our elderly population. It’s estimated that money would draw in $8 million in federal matching funds. Unfortunately, we failed to act on this before adjournment.
It is not too late.
Yesterday we reached out to your offices to in hopes of finding a resolution to this dilemma. Senate President Alfond has said that he does not intend to deal with this issue until January. Curiously, after we contacted you, your offices did send out a letter to the entire Legislature and staff stating the work of the 126th Legislature is done and you have no intention to reconvene unless there is an “extraordinary occasion.” The circumstance we find ourselves in is extraordinary, yet Senator Alfond has indicated he is unwilling to discuss it.
We submit to you that as long as Maine’s elderly population is in danger of losing their homes, along with the security they have earned and rely upon, our work is not done. Finding the funding to ensure our nursing homes stay open is, indeed, an extraordinary occasion, and we should at the very least be willing to discuss all of our options regarding this critical matter.
We ask you to reconsider your position on this issue.
Representative Kenneth Fredette
House Republican Leader
Senator Michael Thibodeau
Senate Republican Leader