Residents in Maine overwhelmingly rejected a ballot initiative that would have created the first universal home care system in any state. By a margin of 63 to 37 percent, Question 1 was defeated. This would have created a new tax on residents and families earning above the Social Security threshold, which was $124,800 in 2018.
Proponents of the ballot initiative claim that home care is absolutely essential for elderly and disabled adults throughout the state, but that far too many can’t afford it, especially those whose income lies somewhere north of the poverty line and where Medicare or Medicaid won’t help. Opponents of the measure said it would drive higher income families and individuals, as well as businesses, out of the state, thus reducing the tax base and creating more problems for other social programs in the future.
At first, the ballot initiative gained a great deal of traction, but as people began investigating and questioning certain aspects, including no definitive focus on the actual taxes people would have to pay, it appeared to lose some popularity.
According to The Ellsworth American in the news blog, Home care measure defeated; funds for infrastructure and education approved, written by Kate Cough:
“Support for the citizen initiative faltered in recent months as opponents raised questions about who would be taxed to pay for the program (individuals or families), oversight of the funds and privacy concerns.
An August poll of 500 registered Maine voters conducted by Suffolk University in Boston found 51 percent in favor of the measure, with 34 opposed and 14 percent undecided.
All four gubernatorial candidates opposed the proposal.
Yes on One Campaign Manager Ben Chin said in a statement that supporters of the failed measure would be “turning our full attention to the Legislature to make sure that they” take action on the state’s “home care crisis.’’
There appears to be no question that home care is growing in value and importance, not just in Maine but across the country. However, as many other states grapple with these same questions, the main focus about how to pay for these services could be of primary concern of many citizens.
If states managed to help people remain at home as opposed to nursing home care, it saves the states’ Medicare and Medicaid system millions of dollars each year. One of the main issues at hand, however, is the stark increase in demand for these services as the baby boomer generation retires. For the next 20 or 30 years, concerns about adequate care and support for seniors at home will remain a hot button topic, and even though this particular measure was defeated at the polls, there will undoubtedly be more efforts in the months and years ahead to help aging seniors and disabled adults afford home care options.