Maine votes down plan for universal home care

A nurse holding the hands of an elderly patient
The Universal In-Home Care program was defeated by voters on Tuesday. (Getty/Rawpixel)

Maine voters elected to reject a proposal to institute a universal home care program in the state.

With more than half of precincts reporting, 63% of people voted against the measure, the Portland Press Herald reported. The initiative would have been the first of its kind in the U.S. 

Home healthcare costs an average of $50,000 a year in Maine, and is not covered in full by Medicare, according (PDF) to the Maine People’s Alliance, one of the advocacy organizations backing the measure. In tandem, Maine’s population of seniors is set to rapidly expand, doubling by 2030. 

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The Universal In-Home Care program would have been funded with a 3.8% tax on residents with gross wages over $128,400. This would have raised an estimated $123 million for a trust fund covering the care, according to the alliance.

The wealthiest 5% of Maine's residents at present pay the lowest combined state and local taxes of any group in the state, according to the group. 

RELATED: Institute for Healthcare Improvement—5 considerations for making home healthcare safer 

The measure was opposed by the state’s business community, and former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Daniel Wathen said the vote was “deeply unconstitutional in many respects,” the Press Herald reported. 

It also faced opposition from a number of provider groups, including the Maine Hospital Association and some long-term care advocates.

“It over-promises and under-delivers, while at the same time creating chaos to our economy by pushing a tax rate for many to nearly 11%,” said Dana Connors, president of the state’s Chamber of Commerce, according to the newspaper.

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