The campaign to place a citizen initiative on the ballot in 2018 guaranteeing access to home care for all seniors and people with disabilities in Maine is now more than two-thirds of the way to its goal. Final counts show the volunteer-led effort collected more than 40,000 signatures at polling places across the state on Election Day earlier this month.
"We are incredibly thankful for and proud of the work that so many volunteers have done to help finally address Maine's home care crisis," said Maine People's Alliance legislative director Taryn Hallweaver. "Hundreds of people talking to their neighbors across folding tables in high school gyms and holding clipboards out in the cold is the purest expression of Maine democracy. Because of their hard work, we have a chance to finally make sure that no family in this state goes bankrupt trying to care for a loved one and no senior is forced into a facility when they could have the freedom to age at home."
The Home Care for All initiative would guarantee that all Maine seniors and Mainers with a disability who require assistance with an activity of daily living would have access to the care they need to stay in their home. Among other provisions, it creates a home care fund by partially closing a tax loophole that currently allows wealthy individuals to avoid paying Social Security taxes on income over $127,000 a year.
"It was a great experience. Almost everyone stopped and signed and lots of people told their own stories about caring for their parents or loved ones," said Gary Dawbin, 76, who collected signatures outside the polls in Winthrop. "For me it's really personal. I've seen veterans, people who fought for this country, not be able to get the care they need, and I have two kids with disabilities that need care. Having home care available for everyone would make a huge difference for me and for just about every family in Maine."
The Home Care for All initiative is backed by a coalition of senior, caregiver and public interest organizations. Making the November, 2018 ballot will require the submission of 61,123 signatures (10% of the number of voters in the November, 2014 gubernatorial election) to Maine's Secretary of State by January 29th.