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Opponents Of Home Health Care Initiative Launch 'No On One' Campaign

Irwin Gratz
Maine Public
Former Westbrook Mayor Colleen Hilton, president of VNA Home Health Hospice, speaks out against the home health care initiative on the November ballot at a news conference Tuesday in South Portland.

The campaign over a home health care initiative on the November ballot began Tuesday – with its opponents.

“We are determined to expose this referendum for what it is - a $310 million tax scam,” said "No on One" campaign chair, Newell Augur, Tuesday at a news conference in South Portland.

Credit Irwin Gratz / Maine Public
Maine Public
"No on One" campaign chair Newell Augur speaks out against the proposal at a news conference Tuesday in South Portland.

On Monday, Maine's Secretary of State’s office released the question voters will face, which includes major elements of the proposal:  “Do you want to create the Universal Home Care Program to provide home-based assistance to people with disabilities and senior citizens, regardless of income, funded by a new 3.8% tax on individuals and families with Maine wage and adjusted gross income above the amount subject to Social Security taxes, which is $128,400 in 2018?”

Augur, and executives of Maine business and home health care agencies, pointed to the elements of the initiative they believe will hurt the state.  Colleen Hilton, a former Westbrook mayor and president of VNA Home Health Hospice, pointed out the initiative would allow “millionaires” to receive free home health care services, paid by other people’s taxes.  

Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors said the board that would be appointed to oversee the home health care finances would lack accountability because no one in state government would be on it. 

Other speakers at the news conference said patient privacy would be compromised and the new tax would make Maine less attractive to entrepreneurs.

Mike Tipping, of the Maine People’s Alliance, which backs the measure, said the criticisms of the proposal were off base.  He noted the payroll tax will be lower than if those same people had to keep paying Social Security tax on their higher incomes. 

Tipping said patients will be able to opt out of information-sharing provisions of the proposed law and he said the Legislature will continue to have ultimate oversight authority over the program.