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EDITORIAL: Maine Should Raise Home Care Reimbursement Rates

May 8, 2014

Raising reimbursement rates for personal and home care services in Maine would help the state meet its rising demand for in-home care, a Portland Press Herald editorial argues.

“Given the benefits — both financial and personal — of home care, and Maine’s big and burgeoning population of residents 65 and over, it’s past time for the state to invest in home care services,” the newspaper’s editorial board states.

The current provider reimbursement rate of $15 an hour has been in place since 2005. One home care agency representative, cited in the editorial, says that it would need to be raised to at least $26 an hour to secure a decent wage and adequate benefits for home care workers.

According to PHI data, personal care aides in Maine earned an average of $10.12 an hour in 2012, while the average home health aide earned $10.72. Both figures are well below the average overall Maine wage of nearly $16 an hour.

The Press Herald editorial is a response to an investigative report in a series on aging published recently in the Maine Sunday Telegram. It questioned why home care reimbursement rates are so low when elders overwhelmingly prefer to age in their own homes and communities.

Between 2000 and 2010, state-funded nursing home expenditures in Maine increased by 27 percent, while expenditures for home and community-based care decreased by 4 percent, the Telegram report found.

“Home care services are among the most important work there is, and if we want it to be done well, dedicated home care workers should be compensated at a level that reflects their commitment and skills,” the Press Herald editorial concludes.

— by Matthew Ozga

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