January 3, 2012

Facilities for elderly, disabled once valuable, suddenly expendable

LePage administration officials fought to save funding for group and assisted-living homes, then sought a full cutoff.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Closing the Heritage Rehabilitation and Living Center because of budget cuts “would be a drastic thing to do. I’d probably be under a bridge somewhere," said 89-year-old center resident Errie Hasty.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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Bennett said the administration wants to allow a transition to some other model of service, although it's not clear what that will be or what it will cost.

The operators of the homes say they are confident the state will be able to protect the federal funding -- as long as the budget cut doesn't go through in the meantime. "I'm aware of 48 states that provide some form of Medicaid-funded assisted living," Erb said.

SUPPORT FOR HOMES REMAINS

State Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, an Appropriations Committee member, said he also is confident the state can find a way to keep the homes operating and comply with the federal requirements, although lawmakers will then have to find other ways to save the $60 million.

The LePage administration anticipated support in the Legislature for keeping the institutions. And despite the proposed cut, DHHS officials have stayed in contact with federal officials and continue meeting with operators of the homes in an effort to resolve the reimbursement issues.

"We continue to work with the state on that process," said McGreal, the federal Medicaid manager.

McGreal said the federal government also is watching Maine's budget-cutting debate. But it won't get involved.

"States are (dealing with) distressed budgets right now," he said. "It's a state-operated program. They need to make those decisions."

MaineToday Media State House Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: jrichardson@mainetoday.com

 

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