Maine senior health programs are in danger. Jessica L. Maurer, head of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging, sent a message over the weekend outlining what is happening in the budget process in Maine. Here’s how you can help save Maine senior health programs:
“Budget negotiations are going very badly at the State House this weekend. It is looking more and more likely that there will be deep cuts to both the Drugs for the Elderly (DEL) Program and the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) if we don’t act immediately. These programs help low-income seniors pay for medications and health care.
Members of the Appropriations Committee, particularly Republicans, need to hear from everyone – young and old, affected and not, that we do not want to balance our budget by taking life-saving benefits away from low-income seniors who cannot earn more money to pay for the medications and treatments they need to stay healthy.
Maine Senior Health Programs Critical
The message is simple – these cuts are bad for seniors and bad for our economy. Here’s why:
· If low-income seniors lose these benefits, they will stop taking health-sustaining medications and treatments that they cannot afford. Some will have critical health events that will result in use of emergency services, hospitalization and long term care (nursing home care costs $88,000 per year) – all more expensive than providing the MSP and DEL benefits, which are mostly paid for by the tobacco settlement, Racino proceeds, and the federal government. Maine senior health programs are critical in controlling health care costs.
· Dollars spent through the MSP and DEL programs – again, which are largely federal dollars, not state general fund dollars – infuse hundreds of millions of dollars into our health care system each year. These dollars support our primary care practices, home health agencies and hospitals. Cutting these programs will mean less money coming into our health system and could result in reduced health care access, particularly in rural areas. maine senior health programs are critical to continued rural health funding.
· We’re on the eve of an incredible health care transformation in Maine, where health care institutions are being paid to keep populations of people, specifically older adults, healthy instead of treating them when they’re ill. Cutting DEL and MSP, which are health-sustaining programs, at this time will significantly undermine these critical health care reform efforts. Maine senior health programs are critical to long-term sustainability of our health payment system.
The Governor is bent on eliminating the DEL program entirely and rolling eligibility for MSP back to federal minimums. 80,000 low income seniors and disabled Mainers will lose their benefits if this happens. Decisions about these cuts will made in the next few days. If we don’t act right now to save these programs, deep cuts are all but certain.
Click here to get contact information for members of the Appropriations Committee. If they have cell phone numbers listed, please call those numbers – they’re all at the State House right now and need to hear from you. This is the best way to communicate with them. You can also email them, but if you do, please send individual ones –not one email to all members!
Please make a call or send an email right now! Then, forward this note to five friends and ask them to do the same. We have to stop these cuts and there’s only one way to do it – with calls and emails to Appropriations Committee members right now!
Thank you! Jess
Jessica L. Maurer, Esq. Executive Director
Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging Cell: 207-592-9972 email@example.com