Supporters of Question 1 say they are bringing a little transparency to roadsides and street corners this week with new yard signs calling out the nursing home lobby for opposing the universal home care initiative.
The signs, which read “The nursing home lobby paid for this sign,” with an arrow, are being planted by volunteers to point at “Stop the Scam” signs all over Maine. They say the signs are designed to highlight how nursing homes and other industries that benefit from a lack of home care options in Maine are actively working to undermine and sow confusion about the universal home care referendum being voted on next week.
“It’s disgusting that the nursing home lobby has placed their own profits ahead of patient care and are trying to scare seniors with lies about Question 1,” said Mainers for Home Care campaign manager Ben Chin. “Along with the banking lobby and other groups who don’t want the wealthiest 2.6 percent to pay more of their fair share of taxes, they’ve run one of the most dishonest campaigns in Maine history.”
According to Chin, although the Maine Health Care Association is featured in ads against Question 1 and CEO Richard Erb has been a prominent spokesperson against the home care initiative, many Mainers don’t know that this generic-sounding organization represents the state’s nursing homes and similar facilities.
Chin points out that as the rest of the nation moves toward significantly increasing the amount of care provided in home and community-based settings, according to a recent government report, Maine has moved in the opposite direction, in part due to the MHCA’s lobbying. The state has prioritized funding for nursing homes over home care and now ranks last in the nation in home care affordability.
In a radio interview on Monday, Erb admitted that his group would oppose the initiative even if their tax claims are proven to be incorrect.
Home care advocates say that they hope that the simple signs can help break through the noise during the final two weeks of the election and make clear the stakes facing voters as they decide on Question 1.
“I think using the word ‘scam’ is deceiving. The issue here is care,” said Esther Pew, a campaign organizer who has been helping Question 1 supporters place the signs. “I think it is important for people to know who’s behind a campaign.”
“Thousands of Maine families are making impossible choices trying to care for their loved ones. Every day, more seniors and veterans are being forced from their homes. It’s time to stop the lies and confront the problem,” said Chin. “Maine seniors deserve to be able to stay in their own homes and age with dignity.