Legislative Update

The Maine Legislature passed a $1.2 billion supplemental budget with bipartisan support and was signed by Governor Mills on Wednesday, April 20th. In her statement, the Governor commented to Maine residents that “help is on the way. You are our greatest asset – and this budget delivers for you.”
The biggest ticket item in the budget is the pandemic relief checks in the amount of $850 for some 858,000 Mainers. With Governor Mills' signature, the emergency legislation takes effect immediately. At the direction of the Governor, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) will issue the payments as quickly as possible with a target date of June 1, 2022 to begin delivery.
The supplemental budget also contains other investments including free community college for recent high school grads, appropriations to address PFAS contamination, remediation and research, as well as some income tax and property tax credits, and childcare subsidies. 
For long term care, the supplemental budget includes the following:
  • $25 million in one-time funding for nursing homes and residential care facilities
  • $5.3 million in one-time funding for high MaineCare utilization add-on payment to PNMI-Cs
  • $7.6 million in add-on payments for restoration of the Supplemental Wage Allowance (SWA) until June 30, 2022

It is important to note that the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee (AFA) voted unanimously (13-0) to amend the Supplemental budget to include language for the full funding of 125% of minimum wage for direct care workers in long term care. This was MHCA's number one legislative priority. The AFA Committee designated the source of the funding to be the MaineCare Stabilization Fund. While this is not what MHCA proposed and despite our best attempts to seek to amend this language with specific daily rate-on language for nursing home and residential care facilities, we are pleased that the legislature designated a funding source in the Supplemental budget.
In addition, MHCA advocacy resulted in a letter from Commissioner Lambrew to Senate President Troy Jackson and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau that provides clarity and assurance that DHHS will complete the calculations for 125% minimum wage for our caregivers and will fully implement by July 2022. In addition, they have stated in writing that, within two weeks of the deadline for cost reports, they will post for additional public input from interested parties the proposed rates for FY 2023 that will account for the cost of rebasing, COLA and minimum wage as directed by Part AAAA of Public Law 2021, Chapter 398. MHCA will be in close and frequent communication with both the Department and the Executive Branch to provide that input.
Finally, MHCA wishes to thank Andy Cashman, our lobbyist, for all of his hard work and dedication this session. We also wish to extend our sincere thanks to all of you who made phone calls, wrote letters, and sent emails to legislators. Your advocacy efforts are greatly appreciated, and the message was received by lawmakers. Together we will continue to advocate and educate policy makers as we make a difference for our residents, our long term caregivers, and the families we serve.

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