By Ramona du Houx - August 21st, 2014 ·
The Maine Council on Aging (MCOA)—made up of over 30 organizations working to ensure the well-being of Maine’s older adults—announced its support today of a package of legislative proposals presented by Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Mark Eves.
“Maine is the oldest state in the nation — each day more than 50 people turn 65. These numbers must be a call to action for our state leaders,” said Eves, who has who has spearheaded a statewide aging initiative to address Maine’s aging challenges. “We must transform how people age in our state so they can live independently in their communities and homes. That is the goal of the “KeepME Home” initiative.”
The “KeepME Home” initiatives announced by Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Mark Eves addresses several critical needs for older Mainers: affordable housing near services, access to needed home care and financial security.
KeepME Home includes three specific proposals: a $65 million general obligation bond to develop 1,000 highly energy-efficient apartments for Maine’s seniors in 40 locations across the state in every county; an increase to the state’s Property Tax Fairness Credit for older adults; and the first boost in a decade to MaineCare reimbursement rates for home care workers.
Congressman Mike Michaud, who is running for Governor, has worked closely with Speaker Eves throughout the development of the KeepMe Home plan. Michaud participated in Eves’ aging summit last January.
“Yesterday, I met with Speaker Eves to talk about his KeepME Home plan and discuss ways they can work together to meet the needs of Maine’s aging population and help them live happy, healthy, independent lives,” said Michaud. “KeepME Home puts its focus in the right place by emphasizing the importance of aging-in-place for Maine seniors. As I travel the state talking to Maine seniors it’s clear that too many are struggling to remain independent, which is why I included an emphasis on supporting aging in place competitive grants in my Maine Made Business and Investment Plan.”
One in four Mainers will be over the age of 65 by 2030, according to census projections.
According to a recent AARP poll of 2,000 Maine adults over 50, “nearly seven out of ten think it should be a top or high priority for Maine elected officials to support age-friendly communities by funding services, programs, or infrastructure changes that enable residents to age in place.”
“Older Mainers want to remain in their homes and communities as they age, but far too many are struggling to find housing and access the services they need,” said Jess Maurer, Executive Director of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Co-chair of the Maine Council on Aging. “The Maine Council on Aging promotes a vision for Maine in which older adults are valued and thriving community members. The KeepME Home Initiative will go a long way to achieving this vision by helping older adults remain independent now and into the future.”
At the root of MCOA’s vision is this truth: Maine is at its epicenter of a national demographic shift: one in four Mainers will be over age 65 in the next two decades. That’s why the MCOA, in partnership with Speaker Eves, launched the Maine Aging Initiative, an on-going broad-based collaborative effort to systematically address the challenges our aging demographic has on our economy, workforce and healthcare delivery system. This initiative involves more than 100 leaders from different segments of the economy focused on specific policy areas, including: public and private safety, workforce and employment, health and well-being, higher education and building aging-friendly communities.
These groups have already generated many good legislative ideas. As the groups more fully develop these ideas, the MCOA will be working with legislative leaders from both sides of the isle to champion these initiatives. Leaders from both parties know older Mainers need help now and that we all have to work collaboratively to make Maine the way aging should be.
That’s why the MCOA sent out a letter yesterday to all legislative candidates asking them to read the Blueprint for Action on Aging and to talk with older constituents and those who serve them about these issues. We’re hoping many legislators will come to Augusta in January ready to support the initiatives announced today and to be champions for other initiatives.
“I am encouraged by many of the proposals in the Speaker’s initiative. Maine is on the leading edge of a national trend. We’re the nation’s oldest state and though that presents challenges, I truly believe that by working together we can turn those challenges into incredible opportunities for Maine communities, businesses and individuals,” said Michaud.