Maine DHHS boosts payments to congregate care facilities amid COVID-19

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 4:15pm

    AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is temporarily increasing payments to a range of congregate care facilities to support their preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release. 

    The additional $10.1 million in state and federal funds will support facilities that provide long-term services and support to children, older Mainers, and people with behavioral health disorders, per the release. 

    The funding will help ensure that these providers are reimbursed for their proactive response to the pandemic and can address cost increases related to COVID-19, with an emphasis on ensuring adequate direct care staffing and high-quality care of residents, the release noted. 

    There has, according to the release, yet to be an outbreak (three or more cases) in such facilities in Maine, which is largely due to this preparation.

    “This additional funding provides immediate relief that will help these facilities keep children, older Mainers, and people with behavioral health disorders safe in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “It's one part of our comprehensive response to this public health emergency, which will also include further support for providers of critical health, residential and supportive services.” 

    Effective March 1 to May 31, DHHS is providing temporary increases to current MaineCare rates for Private Non-Medical Institutions serving children, older Mainers, and people with substance use and mental health disorders, the release noted. 

    These temporary rate increases build on the Mills Administration's earlier investments in nursing facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs). On March 26, DHHS announced that MaineCare will pay nursing facilities for extra costs associated with COVID-19, including staffing above and beyond customary levels to maintain proper ratios and to monitor residents and screen visitors, and supplies and PPE, such as face masks and gowns, beyond the amounts typically purchased. This extraordinary circumstance allowance, which takes the form of a temporary rate increase, builds on prior investments in nursing facilities in the biennial budget.

    DHHS has implemented a similar extraordinary circumstance allowance for ICFs, to help address their costs related to responding to the pandemic, the released noted. 

    Governor Mills and Commissioner Lambrew announced on March 30 that the Administration is also accelerating pay increases for personal care workers and expanding access to meals for older Mainers who are home-bound because of COVID-19.