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Governor’s Address: Universal Home Care will create more wait lists 

Here we go again. There’s another referendum on the ballot this fall that sounds too good to be true. Trust me, it is.

The ballot question proposes a bill, which is called “An Act to Establish Universal Home Care for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities.” It would pay for “in-home and community support services to individuals and families.”

Sounds great, right? Don’t be misled. “Universal” in this case isn’t universal.

But here we go again. Big-money special interests from out of state are using Maine’s referendum process to push policies that would never make it past my veto. The Maine People’s Alliance will tell you that this bill simply taxes the wealthy to pay for free in-home care for people with disabilities and for all our seniors. I will tell you what it really does.

This bill would create yet another board with zero oversight and no ability to remove board members for poor performance or corruption. This unsupervised board would impose a 3.8 percent payroll tax on all workers who earn $127,000.

Just like the 3 percent surcharge on last year’s ballot, this bill will drive high-earning professionals out of Maine.

The new tax would supposedly pay for in-home care. But the bill includes a list of other things it can pay for: transportation, home repairs, and rent, among others. A vast bureaucracy would need to be set up to audit these payments to prevent fraud.

Here are the two worst things the bill does. First, it creates yet another wait list for services for our elderly and our people with disabilities. In at least nine different places, this bill authorizes wait lists and the curtailing of services.

Folks, they already know this program can’t sustain itself. It makes a promise it can’t keep.

What’s worse, it promises a benefit for our seniors who would reasonably expect to have the program there for them when they or their spouses get sick and need in-home care. Yet, when they need that program, they will be put on a wait list.

The Legislature excels at making promises they can’t or won’t keep. We already have seniors and people with disabilities languishing while they wait for services, like the Section 21 and 29 waiver programs in DHHS.

The title of this bill should not refer to Universal Home Care. It should be called “Universal Wait Lists.”

The second thing this bill would do is require any individual care provider to be considered a state employee for collective-bargaining purposes.

What does that mean? Forced unionism. That’s right. These providers will be forced to unionize and pay dues to the same unions that represent the state employees.

This bill is not about caring for our seniors. It would just create a system that can’t pay for its promises; it would put our seniors and people with disabilities on more wait lists; and it would funnel money to union bosses.

Folks, do not be fooled. This referendum is another bad deal for Maine.

Thank you.

Paul LePage


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