Yes on 1 - Improving Jobs for Maine’s Care Workers

In 2018, Maine voters have an historic opportunity to pass the first universal home care program in the nation. Question 1 makes sure all Maine families can access the care they need while making care jobs good jobs.

Maine has the oldest population in the nation, and 70 percent of Mainers will need some form of long-term care as they live longer. From 2014 to 2024, Maine will need 1,630 new home care workers. That’s more new jobs than any single occupation¹. Despite the high demand for home care, though, wages have failed to keep up. Home care workers in Maine earn $11.70 per hour², on average, making it difficult for home care workers to provide for their own families even as they care for others.

Our current care system is broken and unfair.  People must spend down their resources to be eligible for MaineCare or have access to personal wealth to meet the rising costs of care. And home care workers should be adequately paid and recognized for the vital work they do.

We believe that Maine can do more to support older adults and their families in accessing the care they need, and to support the care workers who support our aging parents and grandparents. Home Care for All is a bold step forward in supporting caregivers and families, and in asserting our state’s values of care and community.

Question 1 will:

Provide a universal home care benefit. Every person who needs in-home and community support services will receive the resources from the Universal Home Care Program to access the help they need. The benefit will be universal — everyone in Maine who needs care will be eligible.

Create dedicated funding for home and community-based services. Rather than relying upon the legislature to balance long-term care needs against other important priorities, like education and transportation, this initiative creates a new source of funding, outside the General Fund, for long-term care. This money will be used by families for long-term care, putting more than $100 million into the long-term care system each year.

Create a board with representation from home care workers. We believe that those in the care system know how to best deliver high-quality care to Mainers across the state. Creating a Board where all members are part of the day-to-day care system, and ensuring that three of those seats are filled by home health care workers, puts decision-making power in the hands of those we can trust with our care.

Improve the wages, benefits, and working conditions of home care workers. Agencies will be required not only to raise wages, but to ensure that increased wages make it to workers’ paychecks, and aren’t just used for administrative fees. Home care workers are on the front line of our health system. Home care work is skilled, difficult, and often very complex and compassionate work – and should be valued as such. We believe the home care industry should pay competitive wages and provide training for workers, so that they can continue to grow their career while making a living wage so they are able to care for themselves and their own families.

Are you with us? Pledge to vote yes on Question 1

1. “Workforce Data Center: Maine.” PHI, 2017. https://phinational.org/policy-research/workforce-data-center/#states=23&var=Employment+Projections.

2. “May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Maine.” U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_me.htm