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Maine People’s Alliance launches in-home care referendum drive

The Maine People’s Alliance on Wednesday launched a petition drive to place a question on the November 2018 ballot that would increase taxes on high-income earners to fund an in-home care program for the disabled and elderly.

While Medicare and Medicaid currently have similar programs, many who need the care don’t qualify, and if approved Maine would fill in the gaps for those populations.

The program would be funded with a 1.9 percent tax on earnings above $127,000 and a 3.8 percent tax on non-wage income, such as dividends from stocks and bonds.

MPA announced the campaign at the South Portland home of John and Artis Bernard, a couple in their 80s.

John Bernard said his wife has dementia and uses a wheelchair, and they need assistance with her care. He said the couple qualified for federal help, which pays for an in-home care worker to help Artis in the afternoons. The Bernards pay $75 per day out-of-pocket to obtain in-home care for her in the mornings.

“We are very lucky to be able to afford this,” Bernard said. “I would like for everyone to be able to get the same good care that we get.”

The program, which the MPA said would help more than 30,000 Mainers, would not only pay for seniors, but for younger people with disabilities who need services that Medicaid doesn’t provide.

“Every day, families across Maine are stuck facing the incredible stress of choosing between spending down their life’s savings on care for aging family members, quitting their job to provide that care themselves, or simply letting family members suffer without the care they need,” said Ben Chin, Maine People’s Alliance political engagement director.

The Maine People’s Alliance, a liberal advocacy group, needs to collect 61,123 signatures to get the measure on the November, 2018 ballot.

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