Washington County Senator Applauds Passage of Nursing Home Funding

Senator David Burns Sponsored Bill to Save Struggling Facilities

 AUGUSTA – Senator David Burns (R-Washington) said the Maine Legislature today took a major step forward in ensuring nursing homes are able to remain open by passing LD 1776, “An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Commission to Study Long-term Care Facilities.”

 The bill is the result of earlier legislation that was sponsored by Senator Burns to study the serious funding gap and low MaineCare Reimbursement rates for long-term care facilities. It was prompted, largely, by the closing of a nursing facility in Calais.  The Long Term Care Commission that resulted was made up of state legislators, local government officials, nursing home administrators, and others.  Senator Burns worked on that commission through the fall as it crafted a bill for the Second Session for the 126th Legislature.

 The Commission proscribed several steps to address the crisis in keeping Maine’s struggling nursing home facilities solvent and able to provide the best possible care for our elderly. Included in the bill was the rebasing of reimbursement to keep up with increasing costs. This had not been done since 2005. Another crucial measure was to provide enhanced MaineCare reimbursement to nursing homes that have 70 percent or more of their residents under MaineCare. This is essential to those facilities in rural communities or urban communities with a very large percentage of MaineCare and few or no private pay residents.  

Senator Burns said, “These two steps will help the long-term care facilities from going out of business and having to sell their ‘bed rights’ to areas of the state where more private pay residents are located.” 

Approximately $8 million is needed to fund these two steps through 2014 and 2015. The Legislature has approved $5 million starting in 2016.

 Much of the funding for long term care facilities in 2014 and 2015 will come from approximately $18 million that came from the 125th Legislature’s elimination of childless adults from MaineCare.

 “This is one of the best outcomes, considering how scarce funding is,” Senator Burns said. “Our elderly and disabled populations need to be at the top of our priority list when it comes to our social safety net. This represents a major step toward that goal. We are still about $4 million short for 2015 and we must keep working to find the rest of the money and readjust our priorities.”

 “If we don’t find the rest of the funds for 2014 and 2015, other nursing homes may face closing.”