Don’t believe the speech; Gov. LePage has been a disaster for Maine seniors

Protecting Maine seniors is slated to be a major message in Governor Paul LePage’s final State of the State address tonight, which can only mean that he thinks we all have the memory retention of goldfish with head injuries. Over his seven years in office, LePage has cut housing, health care, homecare, assisted living, prescription drugs and even meal programs for Maine seniors. He would have gone farther if bipartisan coalitions of legislators hadn’t acted to stop him.

Here’s a partial list of some of his most egregious actions targeting the elderly:

  • Gov. LePage cut and attempted to eliminate (in multiple budgets) the Medicare Savings Program. If he had succeeded, 40,000 seniors and Mainers with disabilities would have lost access to medical coverage.
  • Gov. LePage cut and attempted to eliminate (in multiple budgets) the Drugs for the Elderly program, which assists with prescription drug costs for low-income Mainers over the age of 62.
  • Gov. LePage continues to this day to block the release of $15 million in bonds for senior housing projects, despite a critical, statewide need and thousands waiting for housing. Almost 70% of Maine voters approved the bonds in 2015.
  • Despite taking credit on a radio call-in show recently for increased reimbursement rates for homecare workers, Gov. LePage actually attempted to veto that legislation. It was one of 51 bills that passed into law in 2015 because he missed the veto deadline.
  • Gov. LePage then attempted to use a line-item veto to cut funding for increased homecare reimbursement rates in the state budget. He was overruled by the legislature.
  • Gov. LePage cut funding for and repeatedly attempted to completely defund Maine’s private nonmedical institutions (PNMIs), which provide assisted living services for low-income seniors.
  • In 2015, Gov. LePage issued a line-item veto eliminating state funding for the Meals on Wheels program.

In fact, the only time Gov. LePage seems to care about the plight of seniors is when he’s using them as a rhetorical device to advance a conservative policy, like cutting taxes for the wealthy or cutting the minimum wage. As his homecare remarks recently demonstrate, LePage has no problem rewriting history on these issues, so be sure to  keep his real record in mind as he speaks tonight.

Image: Gov. LePage 2017 State of the State video still.

Sign up for Beacon newsletters

Our newsletter, sent each evening, curates the day's most important stories from newsrooms around Maine.