Maine veterans make the case for Question 1

Maine veterans make the case for Question 1

New report shows need for home care for vets

Maine veterans who support Question 1 on Tuesday’s ballot spoke at events in Bangor and Portland today to highlight the unmet need for home care for those who have served.

“I am 80 years old and have trouble walking from a helicopter accident from when I was in the military. I live with my wife and would be devastated if one of us were forced to leave our home for a nursing home,” said Jerry Genesio of Scarborough. “Please vote yes on Question 1. Help veterans like me to maintain our dignity and independence. It’s the right thing to do.”

Common Defense, a national veterans’ organization, today released a report showing that nearly half of Maine veterans are already over the age of 65 and that proportion is quickly growing.

“The need for care services that meet the specific and growing care needs of Maine veterans is serious and immediate,” explained Common Defense Maine member Alicia Barnes. “Veterans are even more at risk for conditions, including dementia and Alzheimer’s, than the general public, because of the prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injuries and conditions like PTSD.”

“Right now, Maine veterans aren’t getting the assistance they need. The VA does a good job in many areas, but too many vets are being forced from their homes and into facility-based care,” said Barnes.

Question One will guarantee that all seniors and Mainers with disabilities can get the home care assistance they need to stay at home, funded by closing a tax loophole affecting the wealthiest 2.6%.

The initiative is opposed by a coalition of corporate political action committees, including Maine’s nursing home lobby.

“The nursing home lobby is trying to confuse older Mainers about question 1 to protect their profits. The Portland Press Herald called what they’re doing ‘dishonest scare tactics’. I call them just plain lies,” said Wilbur ‘Skip’ Worcester of Hermon, a U.S. Army veteran. “When you go vote on Tuesday, vote for a better future for seniors, veterans and our whole state. Don’t let the liars win.”

Click here to access a copy of the report.

Maine Seniors Demand that Nursing Home Lobby Stop Lying About Question 1

Maine Seniors Demand that Nursing Home Lobby Stop Lying About Question 1

Holding signs reading “We’re old, not stupid!” more than a dozen seniors and home care activists from across the state visited the Maine nursing home lobby’s office in Augusta today to demand that the organization stop misleading voters about Question 1, the universal home care referendum on the ballot this November.

The Maine Health Care Association (MHCA), which lobbies on behalf of the state’s nursing homes, is helping to lead the effort opposing Question One, which seeks to guarantee that seniors and Mainers with disabilities can get the assistance they need to stay in their homes. A report from the Muskie School of Public Service released last month estimates that more than 21,000 Mainers are currently going without needed home care services.

“It’s just wrong that the nursing home lobby is lying about Question One and standing in the way of the home care that so many veterans need,” said Wilbur “Skip” Worcester, a senior and veteran from Hermon. “Some nursing homes provide good care, but many don’t, and seniors don’t ever want to be forced from their homes. With Question One, more seniors and veterans can stay at home.”

Contrary to claims from the nursing home lobby and the No on One campaign, Question One would safeguard the privacy of older adults, protect the collective bargaining rights of home care workers without forcing them to join any organization and is funded by a tax on wealthiest 2.6%, those making more than $128,400 in individual income.

“I cared for my mother with Alzheimer’s for as long as I could at home, but with no help, it eventually got to be too much and she had to go to a nursing home,” said Carolyn Silvas, a senior from Portland. “It was awful. She hated every moment of it. Every time I would go to visit her she’d say ‘I just wish I could die and get this over with.’ Eventually she did. No more seniors should be forced from their homes and no children should have to watch their parents die under those conditions.”

Since 2015, Maine nursing homes have been found to be in violation of federal safety and quality regulations 1,114 times. These include disturbing violations like “hiring workers with a ‘legal history of abusing, neglecting or mistreating residents'” and failure to properly label drugs, abuses that can be fatal for Maine seniors.

Despite this widespread abuse, Maine is still prioritizing nursing homes over home care, which is more expensive to the system, less desirable to seniors, and often results in worse health outcomes. As the rest of the nation moves toward significantly increasing the amount of care provided in home and community-based settings, Maine has moved in the other direction, and now ranks last in the nation in home care affordability.

Mainers explain why they’re voting early for Question 1

Mainers explain why they’re voting early for Question 1

With absentee ballots having arrived at town offices across Maine this week, voters can now cast their ballots in-person as well as requesting a ballot by mail. At an event outside Bangor City Hall on Thursday, six Mainers explained why they’re voting early and voting in favor of Question One.

Maine voters can visit to request an absentee ballot online or find the location of their local town office.

“If we want to keep young people in Maine, we need to pass Question 1. It isn’t just about helping Maine elderly community members age in their homes, it is also about creating good jobs that pay fair wages, especially in rural Maine,” said Jessica Holz, a former home care worker, who noted that her former colleagues make just above minimum wage, with no benefits and the industry faces turnover of 67% a year.

Question 1 will guarantee that all seniors and Mainers with disabilities can get the care they need to stay at home, paid for by narrowing a tax loophole on those who make more than $128,400 a year in personal income, the wealthiest 2.6%.

“Maine has one of the largest and oldest veteran populations in the country. You might think that the VA would cover home care, but too often it doesn’t. Too many veterans right now are suffering from a lack of care or are being sent to facilities far away from their families,” said Alicia Barnes, speaking on behalf of the veterans’ organization Common Defense. “It doesn’t have to be this way. With Question 1, we can make sure that no Maine veteran is left behind.”

In addition to being preferable for older Mainers’ well-being, home care is also far less expensive than institutional care, costing an average of $50,000 a year, compared to more than $100,000 for a nursing home. But even that lower expense puts home care services out of reach for most Maine families.

“Right now, too many Mainers are losing their life savings, seeing their families torn apart, or being forced into nursing homes because of a lack of basic home care,” said Judith Hilton, a small business owner who works two jobs to provide care for her 92-year-old father. “Universal Home Care, paid for by a relatively small tax on those who can best afford it, will only become more necessary as Maine continues to age. It’s time to put this sensible solution into practice.”

“Let’s honor our loved ones and those who served,” said Wilbur ‘Skip’ Worceseter, a U.S. Army veteran from Hermon. “Join me in voting early, today, for yes on Question One.”