There is legislation right now that would increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for occupational therapy and physical therapy services in Maine (“Maine plans to review reimbursement rates for Medicaid programs,” Jan. 22, 2020).

Unfortunately it is stuck in the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. This funding is crucial to the services that I provide, to individuals and their families I serve, and to the state of Maine at large.

Did you know Maine is one of the five lowest-paying states in the U.S. for occupational therapists? This is a direct result of poor reimbursement rates. For example, Maine’s reimbursement rate is $50.40 an hour and the highest in the country is $162 an hour, in North Dakota. The national average is about $95 an hour. This is a disgrace.

Maine is losing new graduates and young professionals to other states, where they can go and make a competitive wage.

These therapy services are essential for the most needy people in Maine, especially children. If these rates are not addressed, additional waiting lists will likely be created and children will remain on them during critical periods of development and growth.

This legislation could also be very cost-effective, as there is a federal match for all dollars the state puts toward these Medicaid services. Further, assisting people with independence through OT/PT can pre-empt the need for much more expensive services later (group homes, nursing homes, hospitalization, etc.).

With an ever-aging state, this is an easy decision.

Norah Brennan, 
Occupational therapist
Portland

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