Loss of healthcare workers affects us all

This is State Representative Nate Wadsworth with the Republican Weekly Radio Address.

Four weeks ago, Central Maine Health Care approached a bipartisan group of legislators to sound the alarm. Unless something was done to change the Governor’s healthcare worker vaccination mandate, Mainers would see a reduction in healthcare access. 

In the weeks that followed, we have continued to see other healthcare systems come forward and announce reductions in services or, in the case of some nursing homes, outright closure.

This week, we have moved past the deadline and the full consequences from Governor Mills forcing healthcare systems to fire providers, rather than allowing them to get tested, are only beginning to be felt.

  • Maine General Health announced they have lost just under 200 employees.
  • The President and CEO of the Maine Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, said that five nursing homes and one assisted-living facility have closed. This means fewer beds available in our hospitals since hospitals have no place to discharge patients.  The association anticipates that Maine nursing homes will ultimately up to 10 percent of their workforce.
  • According to the non-partisan Maine Policy Institute, since July, Maine has lost an estimated 10 percent of our healthcare workers.
  • In May, according to the CDC Healthcare Worker COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, there were a total of 73,593 healthcare staff both vaccinated and unvaccinated. By September, that same dashboard reported 64,470 healthcare staff both vaccinated and unvaccinated which is a difference of 9,123 healthcare staff.

As the CDC reports data from October, we will begin to learn more about the impact this policy is going having on Mainers’ access to healthcare.

For now, we know that reductions in available healthcare workers is causing patients seeking care to be diverted, turned away, or having to wait extended periods of time for the medical procedures they need. Delays in ambulatory services potentially compromise the health of us all.

Since the healthcare system was already overworked and understaffed before the Governor’s mandate, the situation will only get worse. The burden on the remaining healthcare workforce has increased, and there is concern that employees will burn out and leave for other jobs.  Ultimately, Mainers will be seeing their healthcare systems having to do even more with less.

Even before we started hearing from Maine’s health providers, legislative Republicans were calling out the burdens placed on hard working Mainers by state and federal mandates. 

These burdens are painful to people just trying to make ends meet and go about their daily lives. The response from the Governor is an unwillingness to change and adjust policy to get the state out of the way.

  • The consumer price index has risen 5.4 percent in just 12 months.
  • The average gasoline price in Maine is now $3.38 a gallon, an eight year high.
  • The federal Energy Information Administration projects that people will pay an average of 43 percent more for heating oil and 47 percent more for propane than last winter.
  • People are experiencing price increases, and are paying more for food, housing, automobiles, goods, services and everyday staples.
  • Supply chain issues continue to lead to shortages and delays of items that are readily available in normal times.

The Democrats in charge appear to be unable or unwilling to address these and other challenges that directly affect our daily lives.

People across the country recognize that the increased presence of government in our daily lives is not resulting in things getting better. 

Maine has a proud commitment to local control, where our citizenship is supposed to mean more than paying taxes and voting; it is a commitment to make our towns and communities the best they can be. It is a commitment to self-government. We need to reaffirm that commitment and reduce the interference from the state inserting itself into our daily lives.

We should protect access to healthcare, we should empower parents in the education of their children, and we should incentivize work, not punish it.

Legislative Republicans will continue to respectfully advocate for these and other policies that improve the lives of all Mainers.

This has been Representative Nate Wadsworth with the Republican Radio Address, thank you for listening.


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