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An aging population and a lack of care
Maine has the oldest population in the nation and by 2030 over a quarter million seniors will require some form of assistance to perform basic activities of daily living, like help cooking, dressing, or bathing. Over a thousand Mainers with disabilities are currently on wait lists for home care services.
As our loved ones age, many find it difficult to live independently at home without the support of in-home care. Right now, the only way many people can qualify for help with homecare is by spending down their life savings to qualify for Medicaid, or similar means-tested programs, or paying for costly long-term care insurance. With the median annual cost for home care in Maine over $50,000, and nursing homes often costing twice as much, too many seniors and Mainers with disabilities can’t afford to to get the care they need at home and too often see their families go bankrupt or are placed into facilities, far away from their loved ones.
The current system of care, where people must spend down their resources to be eligible for Medicaid or have access to personal wealth to meet the rising costs of care, is broken and unfair.
The system isn’t working any better for family caregivers or homecare workers. Every day, family members of Maine seniors are faced with the impossible choices like quitting their jobs to provide care or spending what they’ve saved for their own retirement or their children’s education to care for their parents. Homecare professionals work long hours for little pay, usually just above the state minimum wage, and no benefits. They get little respect for their vital work, find it difficult to provide for their own families and many of the best caregivers quickly leave the profession.
A universal solution
We believe that Maine can do more to support seniors and people with disabilities to allow them to live independently and stay in their homes as well as support the workers who make that care possible.
That’s why we launched Homecare for All: a campaign for universal in-home care services for all Maine seniors and people with disabilities. All Maine seniors (65 and older) and Mainers with a disability who need assistance with one or more activity of daily living will be eligible for care.
By closing a tax loophole that only affects the wealthy we can invest in critical care jobs, support family caregivers and give our friends and family members the freedom to live and age independently in their homes.
Paid for by making our tax system more fair
After years of receiving tax breaks at the state and federal level, the top 10 percent of Mainers now pay the lowest effective tax rate on average compared to all other income groups. They also take advantage of specific tax loopholes that allow them to pay less than their fair share. If we want invest in our communities to ensure that Maine families can get the care they need, the wealthiest will need to contribute their fair share.
Homecare for All would be funded by partially closing the loophole that allows individuals who make over $128,400 a year to pay less in payroll taxes to fund Social Security than the rest of us. The initiative would implement a payroll tax of 1.9 percent from employees and employers on salaries and wages above that amount. For the rest of us, the current tax rate for Social Security is alreay 6.2 percent for all of our income. The initiative would also tax unearned income, like dividends from stocks and bonds, above $128,400 at 3.8 percent.
Making our tax system more fair would would raise $310 million a year, fully funding the Universal Home Care Trust Fund and guaranteeing that Maine families can get the care they need.