Rumors about MaineCare plan’s effects on children put to rest

Posted Jan. 23, 2012, at 5:17 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The LePage administration has no plans to cut services for children living in group homes, lawmakers deliberating the governor’s plan to overhaul MaineCare were told Monday.

Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal, designed to close an estimated $220 million budget gap at the Department of Health and Human Services, calls for cutting funding to residential care facilities known as “private nonmedical institutions” to save $60 million. The rollbacks, opposed by both Republicans and Democrats, will affect the elderly, mentally ill and developmentally disabled, among others, but spare children living in those facilities.

Rumors have circulated that LePage plans to target children’s PNMI services in his next budget, Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, said Monday.

“I want to know if we have a bomb coming,” he said at a meeting of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew acknowledged the hearsay, saying she had spoken to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ office about the concerns, but confirmed that LePage has no plans to cut children’s PNMI services.

“Lots of rumors everywhere,” she said. “Children’s PNMI was not included for repeal as part of this budget submission. There’s no plan to bring it forward.”

Martin said he raised the issue to put an end to the rumors.

DHHS is, however, examining the broader PNMI program, including services for children, to address concerns by the federal government about Maine’s funding model, Mayhew said. LePage has said Medicaid officials object to Maine’s use of federal dollars to fund the room and board portion of PNMI costs.

The Appropriations Committee is scheduled to meet throughout the week on the DHHS budget.

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