Muskie School study shows unmet need, MECEP analysis shows how tax loophole will be narrowed
State and national experts on long-term care and aging and advocates for universal home care are reacting to two new reports on the effects of Question 1.
A study released on Thursday by the Muskie School for Public Service at the University of Southern Maine on implementation of universal home care describes how existing waiting lists for services would be eliminated, federal matching funds would be increased and 27,000 Mainers, most going without care, would have access to needed home care services.
“The biggest and most important takeaway from this report is clear: 27,000 Mainers, many of whom currently receive no help at all in meeting their family’s care needs, would be eligible for assistance if Question 1 passes and is implemented,” said Kevin Simowitz, political director Caring Across Generations, a national caregiving advocacy group. “Most of those 27,000 Mainers are currently in the position of making impossibly difficult choices, running through whatever savings they might have to pay for care or leaving the workforce to become a family caregiver for a parent or spouse. Without universal homecare, those families will remain without help for the care they need.”
A new analysis released this morning by the Maine Center for Economic Policy shows that the funding mechanism for the initiative, which would “partially close the social security tax loophole,” would affect the 34,442 wealthiest individuals in the state, or 2.56% of the total population.
Previous analysis by MECEP has shown that the top 5% wealthiest Mainers currently pay a lower effective tax rate than all other income groups.
“We’ve been trying to serve a larger and larger population with a finite pool of resources,” said Stephen Campbell, data and policy analyst for PHI, the nation’s leading authority on the long-term care workforce, in a media conference on Thursday. “Question one could change that by providing the investment we need to increase job quality and reduce the burden on family caregivers.”
“Most people don’t understand that long-term care is not funded by Medicare,” explained Professor Sandra Butler, Resident Scholar at the Center on Aging at the University of Maine. “They come up short when they need it and is often unattainable for a great majority older adults because they don’t have the resources. Question 1 responds to that very broad-based need.”
Carolyn Silvius, a senior from Portland, said she experienced these issues firsthand when trying to care for her mother with Alzheimers.
“I think she could have lived much longer. She was very unhappy in the nursing home. Every time I would go to visit her I’d her from her ‘I just wish I could die and get this over with,'” said Silvius. “Had home care for all been available at the time, I think there would have been a very much different situation.”