Letter: Support Medicaid expansion for older Mainers

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The Maine Council on Aging values the lives of older adults and works to ensure that they thrive in their communities. The council and its many member organizations support the expansion of Medicaid to cover nearly 22,000 older, uninsured Mainers who are not yet eligible for Medicare.

For many older workers who lost jobs and insurance during the recession, finding employment has been difficult because it takes longer for older workers to re-enter the job force. These Mainers are not only struggling to survive financially, but are going without access to primary and preventative care.

If Maine accepts federal funds, older Mainers with no insurance and incomes of less than $15,856 per year can get insurance and the health care they need. This is good for older adults and good for our economy, since keeping people healthy costs less than treating them when they’re sick and uninsured.

We want to set the record straight about what accepting federal funds means to home-care services. Some have suggested that expanding Medicaid benefits will increase home-care “wait lists” for older and disabled adults. This is simply not true. The home-based care programs that have “wait lists” in Maine are entirely state-funded. Federally expanded benefits will not give any new people access to these state-funded programs.

As chairs of the Maine Council on Aging, we call on legislators to embrace this opportunity to accept federal funds to help older Mainers access the care they need to maintain their health.

Jess Maurer, Harpswell
Don Harden, Portland