2014 M4A Legislative Work
2014 was the emergency session and we did not have any specific bills. We successfully beat back proposed across the board cuts in the budget but were not able to get critical funding for adult day services and benefits counseling. We are leading efforts to put together a strong legislative aging agenda for the 2015 regular session and are working to educate candidates this election cycle on the critical issues facing many Maine seniors.
2013 M4A Legislative Agenda
LD 20 – An Act To Fully Fund the Homemaker Services Program. Click here for testimony before the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services on February 7, 2013 from Nancy Kelleher, board member of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Kelleher says Homemaker Services allow elders to stay in their homes longer and save the State money in expensive nursing home care.
LD 62 – An Act To Provide Additional Funding for Respite Care for the Elderly and for Adults with Disabilities. Click here for testimony provided before the Health and Human Services Committee on February 13, 2013 from Susan Garascia, RN, a Spectrum Generations employee who runs the adult day services program there. Garascia emphasized the critical public policy issues at play in fully funding adult day services in Maine. 6/26/13 Update: LD 62 was carried over to the Appropriations table to wait for the possiblity of funds to become available in January.
LD 527 – The Legislature passed LD 527 and it became law without the Governor LePage’s signature. Click here for more info about this Act to Protect Elders and Vulnerable Adults from Exploitation or click here to read testimony on this bill from Jessica Maurer, Executive Director of Maine Assoc. of Area Agencies on Aging.
LD 560 – An Act to Establish Maine Seniors Day was passed into law 5/24/13.
LR 1046 – 6/26 Update: The Senate has voted to override the Governor's veto of the state budget. And, with that, we have a Biennial Budget that preserves the Medicare Savings Program and Drugs for the Elderly Program. Thanks to all of you who made calls and wrote their legislators and thanks to all of the legislators who worked so hard to put this unanimous budget together and who supported it! Click here for more info on the Governor’s Biennial Budget Cuts.
LD 1066 – 6/19 the Legislature failed to override the Governor LePage’s veto, there are plans to address this issue again in January. Click here to read testimony on “An Act To Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding” from Jessica Maurer, Executive Director of Maine Assoc. of Area Agencies on Aging. Find out more at www.CoverMaineNow.com.
LD 1365 – An Act to Promote New Models of Mobility and Access to Transportation which promotes public private partnerships, focuses attention on connecting community resources and volunteers to serve seniors, and includes a voice for elder advocates on the newly established Maine Public Transit Advisory Council. This bill was carried over to the emergency session in 2014, passed the House and Senate and was vetoed by the Governor. The legislature did not override the veto. Click here to read our testimony in support.
2011 M4A Legislative Summary
The Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging (M4A) had great success this legislative session advocating for new laws that are critically important to Maine seniors and defending against proposed budget cuts that would have been devastating to Maine's low-income seniors. Here is a summary of our successes:
M4A was proud to take the lead in advancing several bills that modify Maine laws related to elder abuse.
LD 401 doubles penalties for violations of the Maine Uniform Securities Act when victims are 65 years of age or older.
LD 939 modifies several provisions in the Adult Protective Services Act mandated reporting requirements to be consistent with the Child and Family Services and Child Protection Act mandated reporting requirements. Specifically, the law brings the two Acts into alignment in relation to when a report must be made and who is required to report. In addition, several provisions have been added to enhance prosecution of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
LD 1374 closes a loop-hole in our civil protection from abuse law that did not allow certain elder abuse victims to seek protection. This new law now allows an adult who is 60 years of age or older or an incapacitated or dependent adult to seek a protection from abuse order if that adult is a victim of abuse by an extended family member or an unpaid care provider. Currently, relief is only available if the abuse is perpetrated by a "family or household member," which does not include spouses of adult children, grandchildren, other non-cohabitating relatives and caregivers.
LD 787 M4A also supported an initiative to establish an Elder Victims Restitution Fund to compensate elder victims of financial crimes who are entitled to receive restitution from offenders but who are not receiving that restitution. The law adds a new section to the Probate Code that prohibits a person convicted of any crime of which the decedent was a victim from benefiting to the extent the convicted person owes restitution to the decedent.
There were a couple of very important insurance bills passed this year that were advanced by M4A.
LD 313 does a couple of things. First, it extends the right for an insured person who holds a Medicare supplement insurance policy to designate a 3rd party to receive notice of cancellation (currently, under Maine law this right only exists for health, life and long-term care insurance policies). The bill also provides an insured person the right to reinstate life, health and Medicare supplement insurance policies cancelled due to non-payment if the cancellation was due to cognitive impairment or functional incapacity (the right already exists for long-term care policies). The provisions in the amendment apply to all insurance policies, contracts and certificates issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2012. In a global sense, this bill makes 3rd party notice provisions and reinstatement provisions the same for all types of insurance policies.
LD 642 requires insurers that actively market long-term care insurance policies in Maine to provide notice to an individual or employer that purchased a tax-qualified long-term care insurance policy on or after July 1, 2004 but before the date the insurer began actively marketing partnership policies that the individual or employer may be eligible to participate in the Long-term Care Partnership Program. The new law requires the insurer to identify whether a policy issued during this time meets the requirements of the Long-term Care Partnership Program and to notify the policyholder if it does and amend the policy's effective date to reflect partnership status. If a policy does not meet all of the requirements, an insurer is required to offer an exchange of the policy and apply its underwriting and rating standards. The amendment also permits a policyholder of a tax-qualified policy purchased prior to July 1, 2004 to request that an insurer review the policy to determine whether the policy meets the requirements of the Long-term Care Partnership Program. If a policyholder makes a request more than 12 months after the effective date of the provision, the insurer is not obligated to review the policy.
Long-term Care Reform
LD 1461 directs the Commissioner of Health and Human Services to implement the recommendations included in the report submitted to the 124th Legislature entitled "Services for Elders and Other Adults Who Need Long-Term Home- and Community-Based Care" to make systemic changes to Maine's long-term home-based and community-based care. M4A worked with the Elder Issues Partnership to draft this Resolve that was sponsored by Senate President Raye.
LD 258 expands the types of people who are automatically entitled to copies of vital records to grandparent, sibling, stepparent, stepchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and personal representative.
LD 1186 amends the Probate Code to clarify that the Probate Court does not need to make a finding about the adequacy of the protected person's estate when approving a gift or transfer for less than fair market value from the protected person's estate if the gift or transfer is to the protected person's spouse or blind or disabled child.
LD 739 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to work with interested parties to create a standard-form written contract that may be used by an individual in need of long term care services and supports to hire and pay a relative to provide that care. The law clarifies that other forms may be used to accomplish the same purpose. It also requires the posting of this agreement on the publicly accessible website of the Department of Health and Human Services and requires the department to adopt routine technical rules relating to the standard-form written contract.
Governor LePage's biennial budget proposed significant cuts to the Drugs for Elderly, Medicare Savings Program, and Home Based Care and Independent Support Services programs. More than 46,000 seniors and disabled Maine people would have lost their health insurance and drug benefits had the budget been passed. M4A, through the hard work of the local Area Agencies on Aging, mounted a huge effort to identify affected seniors and have them contact their legislators to oppose the cuts. We worked closely with others in the Aging Network, including Legal Services for the Elderly, AARP, the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and Maine Equal Justice Partners to lobby legislators from both sides of the isle to reject the proposed cuts. In the end, our efforts were successful and full funding was restored to these programs in the budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. We are grateful for all who answered our call to action! This was a true grassroots effort.
If you have questions about these bills or about how you can help, contact Jessica Maurer at jmaurer@spectrumgenerations.