A Northeastern state moved one step closer to making universal home care for its residents a reality when it finalized language for a November ballot initiative earlier this week.
The Maine Secretary of State’s Office on Monday officially released the wording for a citizens’ initiative referendum that, if passed, would raise taxes on wealthier residents to pay for home care services for the elderly and individuals with disabilities, regardless of income. The initiative is backed by Maine People’s Alliance and more than 67,000 residents who signed on to the cause.
“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, a former home care worker and a family caregiver, said in a statement. “Home care for all will fix that.”
The finalized language broadly summarizes eligibility for a universal home care program in Maine and also highlights the financial impact to some residents’ pocketbooks.
The question, scheduled to appear on a statewide referendum election ballot on Nov. 6, will officially read: “Do you want to create the Universal Home Care Program to provide home-based assistance to people with disabilities and senior citizens, regardless of income, funded by a new 3.8% tax on individuals and families with Maine wage and adjusted gross income above the amount subject to Social Security taxes, which is $128,400 in 2018?”
The wording was written based on feedback from public comments submitted during a 30-day public comment window, which ended June 15.
Critics of the universal home care measure—which include representatives of the Maine Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Hospital Association and Daniel Wathen, a politician and former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Court—argue the initiative is an unfair tax hike that is deeply flawed. Some have already begun to launch opposition campaigns.
“We are determined to expose this referendum for what it is—a $310 million tax scam,” Newell Augur, No on One Campaign chair, reportedly said at a news conference.
The Home Care & Hospice Alliance of Maine also opposes the universal home care referendum.
Supporters of home care for all claim the referendum would only apply to the wealthiest 1.6% of residents.
Maine’s 65-and-older population is projected to far outnumber its population of residents aged 19 and under by 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The full text of the proposed bill is available on the state’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions’ Citizens’ Initiatives website.
Written by Robert Holly