Letter: Social service providers need support

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If you had an offer that would give you $3 for any $1 you put in and it was legal, would you be interested? You bet. That is the offer being made to Maine by the federal Medicaid program through June 2012. It is a tremendous break for a state budget that is significantly stressed.

But more than a relief to the budget is the potential for relief to the human services system and the thousands of people who deliver services within the system. The 10 percent reduction for many of these services has placed many professionals in the position of wondering if they can survive in Maine. For many agencies that provide services the answers to these reductions are salary cuts and freezes, loss of benefits, increases in employee contributions to health insurance and in more drastic situations, agency closings.

A $70 million bond issues to create jobs and to fund capital improvements is nice. However, there is no federal match on a ratio like Medicaid offers. Perhaps we should float a bond and use it to keep alive and vibrant the services on which so many of our citizens depend for survival.

While the offer from Medicaid won’t last forever, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take advantage of it while it’s there. So, I ask the governor to allocate this new “gift” from Medicaid to MaineCare services and keep people employed who are making such a great contribution to the lives of so many of our citizens.

Richard R. Farnsworth, executive director
Woodfords Family Services, Portland