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Maine Bill Aims to Pay Family Caregivers of Medicaid Users

In Maine, about 13 percent of the population provides caregiving to a family member. (Vimeo/Creative Commons)
In Maine, about 13 percent of the population provides caregiving to a family member. (Vimeo/Creative Commons)
February 7, 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine – A bill in the Maine Legislature is aimed at paying spouses who provide caregiving services for partners on Medicaid.

H.P. 70 is a new version of a bill that passed in the last session but wasn't funded through the appropriations process.

The legislation gets a public hearing Thursday in the Health and Human Services Committee.

Republican Rep. Patrick Corey is the main sponsor of the bill. He says the idea for the legislation came from someone in his district.

"I put in the bill for one of my constituents who has ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis),” he states. “He's had it for 10 years now and his wife stays home and she helps take care of him, as part of his care team. He needs pretty detailed personal care."

Since the constituent uses MaineCare, the state Medicaid program, he can reimburse professional caregivers, but not his wife.

This bill would provide financial support to caregiving spouses as well, who have partners on Medicaid.

Corey says the main challenge with the last bill was the cost of having MaineCare reimburse spouses.

So instead, Corey says this legislation has families file for payment from the private agencies that provide caregiving services, rather than the state Medicaid program.

"Through Medicaid, the patient is given money to hire direct-care workers,” he explains. “So basically what would end up happening is these direct-care agencies would be able to hire the spouse as well and pay them with the money from the patient-directed option that the Medicaid recipient already has."

According to AARP Maine, nearly 180,000 people care for a family member, about 13 percent of the state's population.

AARP Maine supports this bill, along with the Maine Heritage Policy Center and the Maine Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, among other groups.

Those groups believe this legislation enables families to stay at home longer and delay needing long-term care facilities.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - ME