by Sally M. Wagley
This week Maine’s governor released his proposal for cuts to the MaineCare (Medicaid) program. A number of the proposed cuts will affect Maine’s elderly.
An area of particular concern is the elimination of MaineCare coverage of expenses faced by elderly and disabled people who live in residential care and assisted living facilities. As an elder law attorney, I have many clients in these facilities who cannot afford to pay the monthly cost of $4000 to $7000, who are on MaineCare or will need to apply for it soon. I also have many clients who are stressed out caregivers who cared for an elderly relative for as long as possible, before reaching the point of exhaustion.
Assisted living and residential care facilities are for elderly people, many of them with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, who need supervision around the clock. In these settings, they are provided with security, reminded when to eat, dress and bathe, are helped with medication, and provided assistance with some activities of daily living.
Where will these people go if they can’t get MaineCare and can’t afford to pay privately? Most will not meet the criteria for nursing home level of care. So they will have to return to live with exhausted spouses and other relatives, many of them also elderly and with health problems). For those without families or homes to go to, or whose families simply cannot take them back, the outcome is not clear.
The governor’s proposal is at this point just that — a proposal, which will need legislative approval before it becomes a reality. Regardless of whether you agree with the governor, it is important to be aware that this change may be coming.