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GOP Lawmakers Say Proposed State Budget Doesn't Adequately Address Nursing Home Staff Shortages

Sen Matt pouliot.jpg
Mal Leary
Maine Public
Sen. Matt Pouliot speaks at a GOP news conference on June 3, 2021 where lawmakers said the state budget under consideration will not adequately address the needed nursing home relief, citing reports of large numbers of job vacancies.

Republican lawmakers say the pandemic has hit nursing homes and other senior living facilities hard, citing reports that 45% have job vacancies. They told reporters at a State House news conference Thursday that the state budget under consideration will not address the problem, and that more immediate action is needed.

Augusta Republican Senator Matt Pouliot says Maine facilities for seniors are facing a crisis and that even though legislation is pending to increase payments starting next January, it will be too late.

“Even if it passes, it does not take effect until January of 2022. That will be too late for these residents of the nursing homes and its likely a number of these facilities will close,” Pouliot says.

Republicans say additional funding for nursing homes is a top priority for them. Democratic state Senator Cathy Breen of Falmouth, co-chair of the appropriations committee, says that has not been communicated to members of the panel, and that Republicans should talk with their Democratic colleagues rather than hold press conferences. Breen says she is willing to discuss any item in the proposed budget.

"I have not heard that out of the mouths of republicans on the appropriations committee. And once I do, of that happens when that happens, I'd be more than happy to discuss any number of items in the budget,” Breen says.