Home Health Care Initiative May End Up On Fall Ballot

Feb 23, 2018

This fall Mainers may be able to vote on a citizens’ initiative for state-funded home care for older residents and adults with serious disabilities.

The Secretary of State's office has confirmed the home care initiative has gathered enough petition signatures to get on the ballot.

“It includes making sure that home care aides are there,” says Mike Tipping of the Maine People’s Alliance. “It also helps family caregivers and other structures that are in place. It also helps professionalize the home care industry, raise wages, make sure that those workers are going to be there for folks.”

Tipping says the initiative is meant to prevent people from being forced from their home for health reasons.

“What it really is, at its heart, is a guarantee that, if you need help staying in your home, if you need help with at least one activity of daily living, you can get it, you can stay there,” says Tipping. “It saves those families a lot of money. It saves our state a lot of money. And, more importantly, give people that freedom and independence that they need to stay in their own home.”

The measure would create a new state fund with money from a payroll tax on wealthier Mainers. That has drawn opposition from the Maine Heritage Policy Center, which has said the measure would drive more older, wealthier taxpayers to move out-of-state.

The proposal now goes to the legislature. It will likely reject it, setting the stage for a vote on the issue this fall.

The National Federation of Independent Business, a small business association, responded to this proposal with a statement, saying "The Universal Home Care taxes are bad for small business, bad for jobs, and bad for the Maine economy."

 This post was updated at 12:44 p.m.