Question 1 - The Freedom to Age at Home for Maine’s Veterans

This November, voters have an opportunity to pass Maine Question 1 the universal home care referendum to ensure all Maine veterans have the freedom to be able to live and age independently at home with their families.

Maine has the oldest population in the nation, and 70 percent of Mainers will need some form of long-term care as we are all living longer now. According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, Maine has more than 127,000 veterans — more per capita than all but two other states in the country. And the bulk of Maine veterans are over 65 years old.

Many Maine veterans who need long term care are sent to facilities like Togus VA, often far away from their loved ones. Veteran services that allow veterans to remain in their home and community are simply unavailable to many. To qualify for Medicaid Home and Community Based Services, Veterans are forced to spend down their assets and impoverish themselves to become eligible. That’s just wrong. The least that our community can do for those who gave so much in service to this country is to make sure veterans can stay in their own homes.

We believe that Maine can do more to support veterans and their families in accessing the care they need. And home care workers who care for our veterans should be adequately paid and recognized for the vital work they do. Maine Question 1 is a bold step forward in supporting veterans and military families, and in asserting our state’s values of care and community.

Maine 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 families receiving care. 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 families receiving care, including military families, puts decision-making power in the hands of those we can trust with our care.

Ensure that veterans have the care they deserve. We have a special obligation to provide the best possible care to our veterans. Mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, dementia, depression, chronic pain, and physical disabilities impact veterans disproportionately compared to their civilian counterparts. This increases their need for home care. In order to thrive and to age and heal in dignity, our nation’s heroes deserve full, comprehensive, wrap-around services that supplement the gaps in care provided by Veterans Affairs. Long-term and home and community-based care are critical to support veterans and military families.