WINDHAM – Rep. Patrick Corey (R-Windham) announced his legislation, LD 84, Resolve, Directing the Department of Health and Human Services To Allow Spouses To Provide Home and Community-based Services to Eligible MaineCare Members has been signed into law by Governor Janet Mills. The new law directs the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to request a federal waiver allowing spouses employed as personal support specialists to provide services to their spouse.
For Rep. Corey, this was his second attempt to pass legislation in response to the plight of constituents, John and Linda Gregoire of Windham. John has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and requires round the clock care from his wife Linda.
"John and Linda Gregoire really opened my eyes to the hardships that a spouse with a debilitating disease can place on a family,” said Rep. Corey (R-Windham). "While getting spouses paid for caregiving through Medicaid seemed pretty straight forward, it took two attempts, strong advocacy from many interests, and some really creative thought regarding who will employ this new workforce to keep the costs down. LD 84 brings us one step closer to allowing spouses to be paid for caregiving activities.”
"Linda slowed down her work schedule more and more, since I was diagnosed with ALS in 2007," said John Gregoire. "Today, she's only able to work away from home one day a week. The reality is however, with my need for 24/7 care, she's working more hours when we don't have outside help."
Allowing spouses to be paid through MaineCare fills a significant need in the home care workforce while providing financial benefit to the state. Avoiding the cost of nursing home care for one-year equals paying for three years of personal support specialist services.
According to the Maine Wire, “the of a private room in an assisted living facility or nursing home is $59,892 and $108,405, respectively, in Maine. Under the current reimbursement rate for services under Section 19, if an individual required 40 hours of care per week, the state would spend less than $38,500 to reimburse for these services.”
Low wages and the demands of direct care jobs both contribute to a shortage of direct care workers in Maine. Spouses were often filling these lapses in care, making it difficult for them to retain gainful employment.
Patients in this program already qualify for expensive long-term care. Keeping nursing home eligible people at home saves the state money.
Families will be able to stay together. Previously, anyone could be paid to provide care except a spouse. In some cases, it resulted in the dissolution of marriages.