AUGUSTA – The Maine House on Thursday gave initial approval to a bill to restore cuts to the Drugs for the Elderly (DEL) program and the Medicare Savings Plan. The LePage administration and Republican lawmakers cut funding and eligibility for the program last year.
The measure, LD 629, passed in a largely party-line vote of 93 to 55.
The bill restores approximately $7 million in cuts to funding for the program over the next two years. The Drugs for the Elderly program and the Medicare Savings Plan help more than 35,000 seniors and people with disabilities pay for their life-saving medications and afford the co-pays to their doctor.
Maine has the oldest population in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The bill faces further votes in the House and Senate before it heads to Appropriations where the committee will determine funding sources in relation to the rest of the budget.
Journal Tribune: “It is a sad day. We aren’t just talking about 110 people losing their jobs, but 110 families as well,” said state Rep. Justin Chenette, D-Saco. “The ripple effects of this will be felt community-wide.” Chenette said legislators in the Statehouse need to continue to pursue workforce department and training to ensure individuals can transition into a new line of work and jobs. The rapidly changing military landscape adds to the necessity for different contracted work, he said. “There was false hope raised when General Dynamics requested and was approved a $100,000 TIF by the city for an expansion. This was supposed to create jobs, not take them away.”
Portland Press Herald: “The concern is that in this economic light – with 110 jobs being lost – where are these people going to go? These are highly skilled workers doing a very specific task,” said Rep. Justin Chenette, D-Saco. “It’s good that there will be job counselors brought in to help, but the jobs have to be there for them to find.”
Featured in the March 2013 edition of Out in Maine within the Portland Phoenix where I discuss my campaign and why young people need to take the reins of the country right now. Featured quote: "I'm of the belief that at some point, being different won't be a headline; that's what true equality is."