Clover seniors worry cuts means they'll be homeless July 1

AUBURN — Mary Ainaire, 90, had to leave her home this summer and move to Clover Health Care assisted living.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Residents of the Clover Health Care assisted-living facility in Auburn are concerned about proposed cuts in Medicaid payments for assisted living. From left are Robert Meservier, Francis Peters, Robert Weston, Mary Charpentier, Olive Donahue, Mary Ainaire and Rita Tardif.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

"I don't know. Go in a nursing home, I guess," said Mary Ainaire when asked where she would go if state funding is cut for assisted-living centers. Ainaire, 90, is a resident at the Clover Health Care assisted-living facility in Auburn.

“I kept falling down at home. I lived alone. I couldn't get up," she said. "Sometimes my legs gave out.”

Linda DeStefano, 69, suffered a stroke a few years ago. “I have no use of my hands. They help get me dressed,” DeStefano said.

A diabetic, she needs five shots a day. “I can't give it to myself,” she said. “It's an awful feeling to be my age and to have nowhere to go if this thing goes through,” DeStefano said. “I go to bed every night and pray like the devil.”

DeStefano is talking about a Medicaid cut in Gov. Paul LePage's budget that would eliminate funding for assisted-living programs, called private non-medical institutions, on July 1.

That would mean at Clover Health Care's program, 135 people, including Ainaire and DeStefano, would have to leave. Statewide, the cut would end funding for 4,291 seniors in assisted-living programs, and several thousand more younger, disabled people.

LePage has said Maine's Medicaid spending is too much for the state to afford. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation study, 27 percent of Mainers are enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 20 percent nationally. LePage wants to kick thousands out of Medicaid, and cut Medicaid programs the federal government considers optional. Assisted living is one of those optional programs.

Legislative appropriations committee member Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, said the assisted living cut “is shocking. On July 1, there's no plan what happens to these people,” she said. “These cuts are not acceptable.”

Assisted living is less expensive than nursing homes, Rotundo said, adding the program keeps many out of nursing homes.

Speaking for the LePage administration, Maine Department of Health and Human Services spokesman John Martins said Tuesday the federal government has expressed concern that the assisted-living program is not a model it endorses for Medicaid.

“They have a variety of concerns, including Maine using Medicaid dollars to pay for room and board. Room and board is not considered a medical service, and is not eligible for federal matching funds,” he said.

Asked what happens to the thousands of seniors July 1, Martins said, “The governor has spoken about wanting to work with the Maine Housing Authority, since the housing component is at the core” of the assisted-living issue.

After the budget is passed, LePage plans to set aside nearly $40 million “to address areas of need. We look forward to working with the Legislature to resolve the PNMI issue,” Martins said.

That's not enough reassurance for some, since the assisted-living program alone costs Maine $47.6 million a year; and these seniors need more than housing, they need care, advocates said.

Clover Health Care has sent letters to families informing them of the proposed cut.

“What would happen July 1 is there'd be no payment, these residents wouldn't be able to pay their rent,” said Clover social worker Christine Foss. The private cost is $129 a day. Except for $70 a month, residents don't get their Social Security checks, that money goes to cover the costs. Medicaid picks up the rest.

Many of the assisted-living residents are elderly suffering from things like dementia and Alzheimer's, and need help with medications. “Nobody moves into assisted living because they want to. They need the help,” Foss said.

Nancy Dumas, 55, of Lewiston, said she is scared.

Her mother, 84, has Alzheimer's and is at Clover. “We kept her at home as long as we could. She requires 24-hour care,” Dumas said.

Dumas said she understands welfare and Medicaid programs need to be cut, but cuts that target the elderly “are shocking and scary.”

If her mother has to leave Clover, “I would be forced to quit my job and take care of her.”

bwashuk@sunjournal.com

Auburn mayor's grandmother one of those at risk by cuts

AUBURN — Clover Health Care assisted-living residents worried that Gov. Paul LePage's Medicaid cuts would mean they'll have to leave include Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte's grandmother, Mary Charpentier.

Charpentier, 79, has narcolepsy and a nerve condition. “I could fall asleep while I was talking to you,” Charpentier said. “The other night I fell on my head.” She was in a chair and got too close to the edge. “I rang for help.”

If his grandmother had to move, “my mom or her sister would need to find a way to care for her,” LaBonte said.

If the cut happens, Clover residents said they would be homeless or have to go to nursing homes.

Evelyn Powers, 71, has multiple sclerosis. “My hands, I can't dress myself,” she said.

Wheelchair-bound Robert Weston, 65, who has epilepsy and diabetes and is going blind,  kept falling when he lived alone. “Once they found me in the bathroom, my eye blackened. I'd pass right out.”

Francis Peters, 90, is disabled but functioning properly with the help he gets at Clover. If the program ends, he says he has no home to go to.

“I'd like to ask the governor to swap places with me, see if he can manage on what we do,” Peters said.

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Comments

JOHN PAINTER's picture

Some options

While quite familiar with PNMI's Clovers cost structure is not made clear in the article, though it appears people using their services pay their SSI, SSDI or straight Social Security to the state which then pays Clover the room and board leaving the individual with $70/month. The cost of the PNMI service which is negotiated on a per Diem rate is then billed to MaineCare. If this is the case it would appear the people living there do not have their own housing voucher e.g. Section 8, or food benefit e.g. EBT which is problematic in a PNMI level service since it is considered a short term or medium term rehabilitation service. Maine has had a tendency to use PNMI as a funding mechanism such as it appears with Clover, which appears to be licensed as an Assisted Living Facility, though likely also licensed and funded as an Appendix C PNMI - this is where the problem lay in our states system.

In the short term, assuring people are not displaced from housing is important, as is maintaining core IADL supports and medical services. These are not being proposed as areas to cut since they're required. Along with what appears as a mini nursing home fiscal structure, if people at Clover are turning their Social Security over to the state already, the housing should not be a problem even if the Medicaid service changes e.g. shifts to fee for service since the Governor has indicated he has approximately $40 million set aside for this issue.

In the Medium term the state could look at whether people at Clover might better fit into Section 19 HBC services since the article is describing medical conditions. In the medium to long term, the state should pursue a 1915(i) waiver to allow the flexibility to target populates it identifies as important while continuing to address our states fiscal realities.

Hopefully as the Legislature grapples with the issues of cost, loss of services, etc it keeps an eye on the future system design to assure there is both oversight of our DHHS and developing a safety net system which is never at risk.

My deep regards to all those at Clover and similar PNMIs and their families and friends anxious at this time of year which should be focused on matters of the heart and family.

Bob Stone's picture

$129,032.25

I have been sitting here, under my rock, all day. When I slithered under the rock this morning at Frank's suggestion, I brought my calculator along.

While all the pontificating was going on today on this thread, the state slipped another $129,032.25 into the hole.

Will some of you experts come up with a fix for the Governor? Time's a wasting.

a fix for the governor

There is an online question petition to recall Governor LePage, check it out on bing or google and sign it plz

 's picture

we can sign all the petitions

we can sign all the petitions we want, however the state constitution doesn't allow for recall of the governor.

 's picture

A fix has been offered, but

A fix has been offered, but you rather have your caviar at your meetings, than help the poorest among us. No other fix is available.

Bob Stone's picture

I've Rubbed Elbows With a Number of Rich Capitalists

...but I've never tasted caviar. Fish eggs are not my "cup of tea." EEEWWWWW!

I'll pass your warmest regards to the Governor when I see him next week. We are going to sit down and hatch yet another plan to kill poor people.

They ought to offer you a job in the newsroom. Your fantasy of the day could be a great story idea.

Mark Elliott's picture

Why give him a job and have

Why give him a job and have to pay him when he has no problem publishing his fantasy here for free?? Dan, you should contact the writers guild for help. Maybe you can demand some pay for your work.......who knows, maybe you'll get a sit com contract out of it......or better yet, a soap opera.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Volunteering

The whole conversation about volunteering is an example of what Republicans do best. When you have no answer change the subject. As much as I admire people who volunteer, that will not solve the problems represented here. I can say, having observed the folks in assisted living,that they are not placed there for frivolous reasons. Most of them have worked hard and saved their whole lives and had their savings wiped out by illness. That is the real culprit here, the cost of health care. They need help with their meds, hygiene, doctor appointments, getting dressed and getting meals. To put them in boarding homes means they will get this care by ambulance rides to the hospital emergency rooms, or the state will have to hire an army of part time workers to go to boarding homes to provide these services.3 workers can take care of 20-30 patients in an assisted living situation and it keeps most of these patients out of nursing homes and emergency rooms sometimes for years. We need a state program to do this for the same reason we pool our money to build and maintain the roads. It is a service all of us need. When was the last time some politician suggested that from now on everybody should build their own roads or that we should take care of plowing and tarring with volunteerism. Old age is a concern to everybody in the state and that is who should address it.

Mark Elliott's picture

"When was the last time some

"When was the last time some politician suggested that from now on everybody should build their own roads or that we should take care of plowing and tarring with volunteerism."...when they don't have the funds, they simply don't plow or repair and we have to drive in snow and potholes.......but you'll be complaining about having to do that next.

Larry Turbide's picture

I think that the governor

I think that the governor should be required to come to Clover and tell these folks face to face what his plan is for them if they are forced to leave.

Assisted Living Facilities

Why can't these people qualify for Assisted living at home through a licensed agency? It would be alot cheaper than a facility in the long run. It would also save the state alot of money as well.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Solving the problem

The governor has this horrible problem balancing the budget. Well that problem didn't materialize overnight. It was there when he submitted his first budget. He could have solved it then by not giving out tax cuts, rescinding subsidies to out of state corporations, taking out a bond for bridge and road repair, cutting some off other departments. Instead he chose to put the money where he wanted and left a huge deficit in funding Medicare coincidentally a program targeted by the national Republican party. Now, having created this hole, he says he has no money. I hope the Democrates are saving the photos of all those moms and dads and grannies he will be throwing out of their homes. It will be interesting to see the new Republicans in the legislature running on that platform.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Claire, Perhaps you should

Claire,
Perhaps you should replace your outrage with action; adopt one of these seniors! Give them free shelter at your home.

Kendra Sprague's picture

Rudeeee

Its not just a housing issue. Most of these residents don't just need a place to live, they need care and attention. They need MEDICAL attention. All the nursing homes in Lewiston/Auburn are already very full and the nurses and CNAs all have their hands full, caring for enough patients. These residents don't belong in nursing homes. That's the reason assisted living was created in the first place.
How dare you tell this woman to "adopt a senior"? You don't realize the problems these poor people have and for you to solve the solution by simply placing them into other peoples' homes, is rude and degrading to them. They deserve the care that they need. I'd like to see what you would say, had it been one of your family in this situation.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Ostensibly you should not

Ostensibly you should not commit yourself to a situation that you are not suited to manage– apply a bit of common sense here please.
Perhaps you answered your own question: “Most of these residents don't just need a place to live, they need care and attention.”

Most is not all, so there must be a segment of the senior population that you may be able to help. For example, you could volunteer to visit seniors periodically to make sure their needs are being met and perhaps bring them meals.

Here is the URL where you can volunteer for Meals on Wheels: http://www.seniorspectrum.com/About/volunteering.html

Now, if you are unable to drive, you can still volunteer and ride along, talk to seniors, and deliver food.

In closing, you have the ability to help those who don’t fall in to your “most” category; this can free up resources to help those who need the assistance the “most”.

I dare this woman to get involved.

Mark

Carl Kimball's picture

MARK

Have you?

MARK GRAVE's picture

Carl, I just read your

Carl,
I just read your profile. I see you are living in The Towers on Blake St., perhaps you can volunteer to assist others who are worse off than you if you don’t do so already. Every little bit helps improve someone’s life.

I see you have computer skills and access to the internet – ostensibly. Since access to the internet is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury, perhaps you can assist those in your immediate community with conducting business or finding information that is available on the internet for those without internet access or the necessary skills to access such resources.

Mark

Carl Kimball's picture

WHAT'S UP

Ya, we just moved in here in August of this year, we were living in a tent. It was good to get inside plumbing again,lol. In the first few weeks here, a few people started asking me or saying that i need to be the president here on their committee. This use to be a busy place with everyone coming down to the main floor to enjoy each others company, but things has changed since cut backs in the budget and it went from 55 & older, to bringing younger people with problems. Now most of the elderly stay in their rooms, down in the main area it's like a ghost floor. My wife has disabilities, but i'm here for her 24/7, because that's what you do when you care for someone. I see the problems here and listen to the people on how it use to be, before the change. I do the best i can to police the area and make sure rules are followed, but i'm no miracle worker, like they seem to think i am. I know there's a chance the senior group at the Multi-Purpose Center may have to move into a new place. I would like them to move here and have their meetings. Then meet and get to know the seniors here. We have a good size community room with a kitchen. Then maybe it will bring some of them out of their apartments.I try to be avilable for all here, but to be honest, being Prsident would be like a full time job and i have my hands full right now. "Very" few dare to get involved, fear of retalation. I've had a tire flatten and later my antenna ripped off, but i still call 911 or report things to management, because this is our homes and there are rules to keep it safe and secure. So they, (seniors), look to me and a few others to solve these problems. I don't know if that answers your suggestion or not, but there it is.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Carl, It certainly sounds

Carl,
It certainly sounds like you are contributing. It is sad to hear that your property has been vandalized and especially sad to hear that some of the senior patrons have to live in fear.

You have the power of the pen and internet access – document and publish the goings on and see if you can get it cleaned up. All that said, be careful for you and your wife's saftey.

Have a good new year.

Mark

MARK GRAVE's picture

Have I adopted a senior into

Have I adopted a senior into my home? No, but I do volunteer my time to Meals on Wheels.

Now, how do you contribute?

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Gee, I hadn't thought of that

That would solve everything. Especially for those folks who will have to quit their jobs to stay at home and take care of parents, and those who will see their mentally ill family members left in a room someplace with no one to monitor whether they are taking their meds and those kids with severe brain disorders who have been abandoned by their families. That's just the winning attitude I was talking about. It should really play well at the polls.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Claire, Perhaps you missed

Claire,
Perhaps you missed the sarcasm. You need to set your emotions aside for a moment and look at the problem pragmatically.

How is the state going to continue to fund this program (and others), especially with an aging population? This is not an easy problem to solve.

You carp about what the State should and should not do, but what do you contribute? Would you get off your a** and volunteer to help these people in need, perhaps you already do, or do you just feel that someone else should foot to bill?

I volunteer for Meals on Wheels in my City; what do you do to contribute?

Instead of arriving at the potluck empty handed relying on others to bring food, cook something and bring it to the party – get the point – get involved!

Mark Elliott's picture

She seems to forget that the

She seems to forget that the "state" is us.........

MARK GRAVE's picture

At times there seems to be a

At times there seems to be a lost connection to the origin of these funds that fuel services.

Carl Kimball's picture

CUTTING COST

Another thought just crossed my mind, where does Social Security or SSI fit into all of this? Don't a percentage help cover the expense for those who have SS or SSI? I'll re-read the article, but i don't think it was mention....just a quick thought...

 's picture

when people go into assisted

when people go into assisted living, their entire SS check is taken to help pay, with the exception of $70 a month. And with that $70, they must pay their own telephone, laundry, toiletries, haircuts, clothing, and any food or over the counter medicine they may want. Unless they have relatives that bring them out of the institution, they are basically stuck in a gilded prison. Some institutions try to provide activities for their inmates, but depression easily and quickly can settle in. At least they don't have to worry about a place to sleep or their next meal, until now.

Carl Kimball's picture

CUTTING COST

The federal government don't like the money to be used for room and board?! So if people are in a nursing home or hospital someone else is paying their room and board? I guess homeless is a great idea, just because he did it and now he thinks he's a hero for doing it? I've been homeless, it's not a great feeling and i don't feel like a hero. That's one of the reasons i didn't vote for him. He tried to make himself look like some kind of hero and have people pity him. To me he came across as a person running away from his problems and left his younger siblings behind to deal with it...just my opinion...

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I meant Bob

sorry Dan

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Dan

I think Dan should take all his numbers and crawl back under his rock, oh and take your pal Lepage with you.

 's picture

I'm glad that the SJ is

I'm glad that the SJ is putting a face on the tragedy that's about to happen if lepage's draconian cuts are allowed. Doesn't it say something when for $500 or less a year given to the wealthiest among us, we'd have to throw these people to the streets. Aren't you republicans really proud of yourselves? The turmoil these proposed cuts are creating will KILL people, never mind if they actually pass. I urge the legislature, even the republicans, to tell lepage to go to hell, we will NOT abandon these people for your rich cronies.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Dan, The bigger problem is

Dan,
The bigger problem is that no program wants to see cuts, and that is not realistic.

There are about 445K taxpayers in the State of Maine. Now if you tax the “rich” $500.00 per year to cover a $120M shortfall, then you’ll need about 240K taxpayers to pony up $500.00 per year.

Cleary you are dipping deep into the middle class, not just the rich.

You see Dan, this simple exercise illustrates where the “tax the rich” mentality breaks down. There is simply not enough money to go around for everyone’s program. Government has committed to spending far beyond what the economy and the people can sustain.

Moreover, as government spending continues to grow and the economy remains lackluster, there are more cuts on the horizon.

Now you can bury your head in the sand and not realize this, but the situation will correct itself sooner or later regardless of your course of action.

Now you have to ask yourself, do you want attempt a soft landing or do you want to wait for total collapse? You should give some thought to the number of people who will be hurt by the later choice as compared to the former.

Therefore, as you contemplate the fate of those impacted by today’s budget cuts, consider what tomorrow would look like if the economy stalls due to over-taxation. Think about it!

Bob Stone's picture

You Can Bitch, or You Can Propose Solutions

Its like talking to a wall, but here we go again with Dan. We can always count on Mr. Breton complaining about Governor LePage and those greedy Republicans, most of of those greedy people being the same who are now getting ready to go to work to pay taxes to support the very people Dan is saying they want to "abandon."

How about solutions, Dan? Instead of complaining and knocking a Governor that is faced with a $120 million dollar budget deficit that has to be filled by June 30th, how about telling us how he should go about filling that hole.

Let's help Dan understand the enormity of the problem we are asking Dan to solve.

1. He has 6 months to solve the problem.

2. He is looking at $120 million if things hold as of now. That is $20 million a month.

3. The problem is growing at $4 million a month. Translated, the problem will be a $144 million problem by June 30th if nothing is done.

4. Unlike Obama, LePage cannot just print money to solve our $144 million problem.

5. 5% of the people on MaineCare consume 55% of the dollars spent.

6. MaineCare and education aid to K-12 students account for 82% of the state budget.

7. People continue to lose their jobs. Immigrants continue to stream in. People continue to age and need help. We now have 360,000 of our fellow Mainers on MaineCare.

So what does Dan want the evil LePage to do?

1. Raise taxes? How does he collect $120 million by June 30th?

2. Borrow to cover the deficit? That's like putting this week's groceries on the credit card.

3. Cut school aid immediately?

4. Shut down the rest of state government and re-open on July 1st?

5. Ask Obama for help? Many states are in the same boat as Maine.

The problem is not LePage. The problem is legislators, like Craven, Rotundo, Wagner and Bolduc who have "lived for today and hoped that tomorrow would never come" by adding more and more people to MaineCare to the point where they painted us right into a financial corner. Well, tomorrow is here.

Margaret Thatcher said it best. "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." Not only have Rotundo, Craven, Wagner, Bolduc and Lajoie run out of money, but they are now running out of "people." Thousands of former Mainers have taken up residence in warmer climes, and no longer stand for supporting the hundreds of thousands of people who are now "on the state." Keep raising taxes, and that fact of economic reality will get nothing but worse.

So, bitch all you want, Dan. Let's hear your solution to the $144 million problem.

 's picture

bob, let's put this in terms

bob, let's put this in terms even you and your clan can understand. this entire 'deficit' is ENTIRELY the governor's making, if he had NOT given his rich cronies tax cuts, the budget will be BALANCED!! What part of this don't you and yours understand and I will try to clear it up in simpler language.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Good summary Bob, but now I

Good summary Bob, but now I fall asleep to the sound of crickets waiting for Dan’s reply.

Mark Elliott's picture

He might respond, but we will

He might respond, but we will have to bug him for a few days while he comes up with something.......

Carl Kimball's picture

WHAT"S THIS...

I agree with your infomation, but like Dan, i saw no solution in your statement, just complaining about Dan's right to his opinion. Have a nice day.

Mark Elliott's picture

Carl, Bob is justifying

Carl, Bob is justifying LePage's actions....that's the solution. Dan is attacking said solution without any suggestions of his own. Something he does EVERY day.

 's picture

I gave a reasonable rational

I gave a reasonable rational solution, however you always reject it out of hand. You don't care about the poor of this state, and that's something you'll have to answer for, eventually.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Dan, can you please define

Dan, can you please define "wealthy"? Is it any individual making over X amount of dollars per year? Is it anyone that makes more money than you? What is "wealthy", anyway? A lot of people that make good money are already paying more than most in taxes. I agree with closing loopholes, etc. that allows some individuals and businesses to escape their tax obligations. I do though have a problem with the goverment taking on the role of Robin Hood.

Mark Elliott's picture

For me, it is the

For me, it is the relationships with my friends and family that make me "wealthy"...........

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