Maine’s Medicaid system is underfunding our nursing homes by $29.4 million per year, according to the bipartisan Long Term Care Commission. This is bad news for the people who work at our nursing homes as well as our elderly neighbors who depend on them for food and shelter.

There is a bill before the Legislature, L.D. 1776, to increase the funding rate for nursing homes by $10 million per year. It would be initially be paid for simply by collecting money owed by the nursing homes to the state.

I am hoping that the Legislature’s budget-writing committee won’t take that money and spend it on something else, such as Medicaid expansion for non-disabled adults.

About 68 percent of nursing home residents rely on Medicaid to keep them there, and we recently saw the closure of a home in Calais due to chronic underfunding.

It’s time for state government to reject the proposal to expand Medicaid to tens of thousands of adults under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which will require millions more in state General Fund dollars, and instead prioritize our assistance programs on the people they were originally intended to help: the elderly, disabled and children.

I voted for L.D. 1776 in the Health and Human Services Committee, and it now goes to the full Legislature and the budget committee for votes. Please urge your state legislators to reject the expansion of Medicaid and to support L.D. 1776 to help Maine’s nursing homes and the elderly they serve.

Rep. Heather Sirocki

member, Health and Human Services Committee

R-Scarborough