An advocacy group has gotten enough signatures to add a ballot measure to the November 2018 election in Maine that would increase taxes for some residents to pay for new in-home care services for seniors.
The referendum effort was organized by a coalition of seniors, caregivers and public interest groups, including the Maine’s People Alliance. More than 61,000 signatures were collected for the Home Care for All initiative, which will essentially will provide universal home care for seniors and people with disabilities in the state.
The referendum item would raise taxes 3.8% on those making more than $127,000, “partially closing a payroll and unearned income tax loophole,” according to Caring Across Generations, a national movement that advocates for families, caregivers and aging Americans.
“We all know the problem. In our rapidly-aging state, too many seniors are being forced from their homes and too many people with disabilities can’t get the care they need,” Miri Lyons of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, a former homecare worker and a family caregiver for a child with a disability, said in a statement. “Home care for all will fix that. It’s a guarantee that if you need help staying in your home, you can get it.”
Maine reportedly has the largest population of older Americans by any state. Under the measure, any senior or person with a disability who needs help with activities of daily living could receive home care services, regardless of their income. The measure also seeks to increase wages and training for home care workers and professionalizing home care careers.
Only one other state has undertaken a similar measure: Hawaii implemented a “kupuna” law last year, which provides $70 per day to a family or person to help pay for home care for seniors. Kupuna is the Hawaiian word for elder. The program was approved last year.
Written by Amy Baxter