Legislative Session Highlights for the Week of February 28th, 2022

On Monday, February 28th, Maine Health Care Association testified in opposition to LD 1995, An Act To Make Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government, General Fund and Other Funds and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2022 and June 30, 2023. This is the Governor's Supplemental budget proposal.

Our testimony acknowledged the one-time $25 million appropriation in the Supplemental budget that would provide COVID-19 specific relief to members to help avoid a cliff event on July 1st and the partial restoration of the Supplemental Wage Allowance ($7.5 million). In addition, we noted the new appropriation of $5.3 million proposed for the support of PNMI-C providers that care for a very high volume of MaineCare beneficiaries.

However, we pointed out our deep concerns with being left out of the supplemental budget's fix for the 125% of minimum wage increases. This legislation (Part AAAA of LD 221) mandated that the labor portion of MaineCare provider reimbursement cover the costs of implementing 125% of minimum wage including wages, taxes, and benefits. The shortfall in the minimum wage appropriation for nursing and residential care facilities is approximately $66 million. We called upon the Appropriations Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee to direct the Department to share their methodology for the rate calculations and to correct the funding shortfall. No work session has been scheduled yet.

On March 2nd, LD 1867, An Act to Codify MaineCare Rate System Reform was worked in the HHS Committee. A second work session is scheduled for March 4th at 11:00 AM.  

In addition, the Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee held a work session on LD 1973, An Act To Support Frontline Health Care Workers by Waiving Professional Licensing Fees. While many groups, including MHCA, expressed appreciation for the spirit of the bill to waive/ refund professional licensing fees, there were several concerns voiced. Ultimately, the committee voted ought not to pass.

Lastly, on March 2nd the Veteran's and Legal Affairs Committee held a public hearing on LD 2001, An Act To Fund and Support the Veterans Homes in Caribou and Machias and Require Legislative Approval for the Establishment and Closure of Veterans Homes. The committee heard several hours of testimony. No work session has been scheduled at this time.   

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