Governor Mills, we believe you made an honest mistake, please tell us how you plan to fix it?

Governor Mills, we believe you made an honest mistake, please tell us how you plan to fix it?

Mistake on bill providing emergency funding for nursing homes could result in facilities closing this summer

STATEHOUSE – Legislative Republicans are calling on Governor Janet Mills to provide a solution to a mistake made by her office that could result in the closure of additional nursing and residential care facilities this summer and fall. LD 1758, “An Act To Clarify and Amend MaineCare Reimbursement Provisions for Nursing and Residential Care Facilities” received unanimous support from legislative Republicans and Democrats, before being held by Governor Mills.

The Governor’s failure to approve the emergency funding measure means that nursing and residential care facilities may have to wait until January to receive desperately needed funds. Already, according to Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), seven nursing homes have recently closed their doors. Affected facilities are already under stress from the government-mandated minimum wage increase, along with rising costs.

“We believe failing to approve emergency funds to help keep nursing and residential care facilities open is an honest mistake by the Governor,” said House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham. “This bill was supported unanimously by Republicans and Democrats, this is not a partisan issue. Now, going forward, we want to know how the Governor’s Office intends to fix this mistake?”

WHY REPUBLICANS BELIEVE THE GOVERNOR MADE A MISTAKE:

In her public statement on LD 1758 re: nursing home funding, Governor Mills’ office stated the following:

“Governor Mills held this bill because its proposed rate increase would have exceeded the threshold to qualify for matching federal funds. Had she signed this bill into law, it would have caused nursing home costs billed to MaineCare to exceed that federally required limit, which in turn would have stopped federal match funding. The state would then have to make up for that loss, though the Legislature never allocated any money to compensate for it.  (emphasis added)”

This language is taken directly from the fiscal note for the amendment to LD 1758:

“However, based on the language in statute (Title 22 §1708 sub-§3, ¶C), the DHHS must establish reimbursement rates that “are consistent with federal requirements relative to limits on reimbursement under the federal Social Security Act, Title XIX.” Thus, the estimate of costs above includes all increases associated with the bill, with a federal match. If this does create a UPL issue, the DHHS will limit the payments to N(ursing) F(acilities) to remain below the federally required limits. (emphasis added)”

*The language in the bill was written by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to guard against the issue cited by the Governor. 

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