Legislative Session Highlights for the Week of February 21st

Maine Health Care Association provided testimony on two bills this week.

MHCA provided testimony in support of LD 1807, An Act to Expand Nursing Education Programs. Sponsored by Senator Daughtry of Cumberland, this bill seeks to provide $2.5 million in ongoing funds to the Maine Community College System to expand nursing education. No work session has been scheduled yet.
In addition, MHCA delivered testimony in support of LD 1973, An Act to Support Frontline Health Care Workers By Waiving Professional Licensing Fees. This legislation is sponsored by Senator Jackson of Aroostook and would waive professional licensing fees for emergency medical services persons, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory care practitioners, midwives. The licensing fees would be waived for the period of March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2022. It would require any licensing fees paid by these individuals for the period be refunded. An amended version of the bill would also add Physician Assistants to list of provider types. No work session has been scheduled yet.
Several bills that MHCA previously testified on have been scheduled for work sessions. 

On Thursday, Feb. 24, the Health and Human Services Committee will hold a work session on LD 1791, An Act Directing the Department of Health and Human Services To Provide Notice to Hospitals of Nursing Facility Closures.

MHCA convened a stakeholder meeting with the Maine Hospital Association (MHA), the Maine Long Term Care Ombudsman's Program (LTCOP), and the Division of Licensing and Certification (DLC) to reach an agreement that does not require legislation. The consensus recommendation will be presented to the HHS Committee for their consideration, and we anticipate this will result in an ought not to pass outcome on LD 1791.
Finally, LD 1867, An Act to Codify MaineCare Rate System Reform work session has been rescheduled for Wednesday,  March 2nd. This bill would formalize the MaineCare provider reimbursement rate system reform, specifies rule making requirements for rate adjustments, and establishes a technical advisory panel. MHCA testified neither for nor against the bill.
Looking ahead to next week, public hearings will begin on the Governor's Supplemental Budget (LD 1995) on Monday. Highlights of the proposed supplemental budget:
  • Approximately $100 million in total funding ($35.8 Million General Fund) to fully implement 125% of minimum wage, accelerating COLAs, etc. across many provider types.
  • $7.6 Million in partial restoration of the Supplemental Wage Allowance for 1/1/22 through 6/30/22.
  • One-time $25 Million (all funds; $7.6 million General Fund) supplemental payment in FY 2023 for nursing homes and residential care facilities.
  • One-time $5.3 million (General Fund) add-on payment for FY 2023 for high MaineCare utilization in PNMI-Cs. It is anticipated that the Department will structure this similar to the nursing home high MaineCare utilization.
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