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Legislation would increase Medicaid reimbursement to Maine Veterans' Homes

The entrance to the Maine Veterans Homes facility in Scarborough, a 125-bed retirement home for veterans and their spouses.
Nick Schroeder
The entrance to the Maine Veterans Homes facility in Scarborough, a 125-bed retirement home for veterans and their spouses.

A Norridgewock lawmaker is hoping the Legislature will increase its reimbursement rate to the beleaguered Maine Veterans’ Homes to keep its locations open.

The nonprofit provides over 500 nursing home beds specifically for veterans at its six homes. The Legislature stepped in last year when the organization said it would have to close its Machias and Caribou locations due to revenue shortfalls. It sent $3.5 million to the homes and passed a law requiring more legislative oversight if a closure was possible.

Now Sen. Brad Farrin, R-Norridgewock, says Maine needs to step up again. His bill would use Medicaid dollars to reimburse the homes with an increased per patient daily rate for services to residents. That would provide the homes with an additional estimated $3.4 million.

It’s a necessary change to ensure the vulnerable veteran population continues to have care options going forward, said Farrin, who is a veteran.

“The state can't simply direct that MVH continue to provide this care and those services without adequately funding them,” he said during a Monday public hearing before the Legislature’s veterans affairs committee. “You can't have this quality of care without an ongoing and real financial commitment from the state."

Maine Veterans Homes has said it has long struggled with finances. Its annual report this year asked for over $3 million from the state, saying it costs $15 million more to care for residents than it receives in reimbursements.

But how it manages those costs has come under fire. The Legislature's oversight committee launched an investigation into the Homes' in February after a whistleblower raised concerns about its accounting practices.

The bill is opposed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. In written testimony to the committee, MaineCare Services director Michell Probert said Gov. Janet Mills already has $2.4 million in additional funding for the organization in her proposed two-year budget. She also said the state is already working on rate reforms and the bill would carve out a unique exception for one group of providers.

“These facilities already receive a per patient daily rate, but what LD 985 does is mandate that the daily rate cover costs that would result in provider-specific rates with no incentives for cost control or quality,” Probert wrote.

The organization has locations in Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Machias, Scarborough and South Paris.

Reporter Caitlin Andrews came to Maine Public in 2023 after nearly eight years in print journalism. She hails from New Hampshire originally.