Legislative session highlights for week of January 31, 2022

The legislative session is well underway. This week MHCA testified on two bills of interest to the industry.
The first bill was LD 898, An Act to Create the Essential Support Workforce Advisory Committee
This bill was carried over from the previous session and had a different title (An Act To Provide Incentives to Unemployed Workers To Become Part of the Caregiver Workforce). The newly amended bill seeks to create an advisory committee with the goal of advising the legislature, governor, and executive branch on the essential support workforce. MHCA provided testimony in support of the bill and highlighted data on the staffing crisis in long term care facilities across Maine. We noted the importance of short-, medium- and long-term goals to adequately address the staffing shortages. There was no new public hearing scheduled for this bill. During the work session on January 31,st comments and written testimony was received by Labor and Housing Committee. The committee voted and ended up with a divided report.
In addition, MHCA delivered verbal testimony on LD 1867, An Act to Codify MaineCare Rate System Reform. Our comments noted that we are pleased the Department of Health and Human Services is engaging in the important work of formalizing a process for reimbursement rate system reform including principles and processes to address this complex task. We also provided feedback that given the inadequate rates, providers face difficult decisions and, in some cases, have been forced to shutter their doors. Our testimony also raised concerns about benchmarking with other states given Maine's higher medical eligibility requirements for NF residents, which results in higher acuity of residents' care needs and in turn higher costs of care. Lastly, we suggested a mechanism for providers and other qualified third party/ financial experts to be able to submit information to the newly created MaineCare Rate Reform Expert Advisory Panel. No work session for this bill has been scheduled yet.
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