State can, and must do better
To the Editor:
These are desperate economic times. The status of state government finances is dire as evidenced by the news about proposed state budget cuts which are nothing short of devastating.
Through the Medicare Savings Program, over 12 million could be cut from the Fund for Healthy Maine, eliminating the wrap benefit and payment of Medicare Part D premiums for certain individuals receiving benefits. What does this mean? It means that many low-income seniors will no longer receive assistance for the essential and often life-saving prescription drugs upon which they rely.
Critical services such as dental care, podiatry and vision care could be cut from MaineCare. Stroke victims, those in rehab and diabetics, to name a few, will suffer. These are support services that help our fellow Mainers stay healthier at home where they can maintain their independence.
Cuts of $150 million would eliminate funding for private, non-medical institution (PNMI) services. Some 6,000 people, including 4,400 elderly and frail Mainers, will be affected. It is estimated that at least 900 are nursing home eligible. The state does not have 900 nursing home beds available. Where will they go? The state offers no viable answers.
These are Maine residents with the least to spare. Democrats, Republicans and Independents must come together in the spirit of compromise and fully fund programs and resources that are essential to our most vulnerable residents.
The state can, and must do better.
AARP Outreach Volunteer,