In a recent editorial piece in The Penobscot Times, State Senator Jim Dill highlighted bill passed in the latest legislative session that focus on supporting Maine's seniors. Here is a breakdown of those new and/or updated laws, for the benefit of Orono's senior community.
1) The new State budget expands the Property Tax Fairness Credit, where eligible seniors can save up to $1,250.
2) The Homestead Exemption was raised in 2019. An example of the Homestead Exemption, from Pine Street Legal Assistance:
- Jane owns a home in Maine.
- Her town’s property tax (mill rate) is $10 per $1,000 of home value.
- Meaning the tax rate is 1%
- The town values her home at $110,000.
- Without the exemption Jane owes $1,100 in property taxes.
If Jane claims the exemption, the town will subtract $20,000 from Jane's home value before figuring the tax. The new tax value is just $90,000. Now Jane will owe $900 in property tax. Jane saves $200 a year with the exemption.
3) The Legislature increased eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program and Low Cost Drugs for the Elderly and Disabled Program, for low-income disabled or elderly individuals. According to the web resource Paying for Senior Care, low-income seniors are seven times more likely to fail to adhere to their prescription regimens than younger adults. Cost is a big factor in that statistic.
4) Increased funding for the Maine Meals On Wheels program, which provides home-delivered meals to individuals who are 60 years of age or older and who are homebound or at risk for readmission to a health care facility. Contact the Eastern Area Agency on Aging for information on signing up for this program.
5) According to Senator Dill, laws were passed to "make it easier for seniors to age at home and stay in their communities". These include Bill LD 84, To Allow Spouses To Provide Home and Community-based Services to Eligible MaineCare Members. "Under LD 84, spouses can be hired as their loved one’s personal support specialist after a federal waiver has been approved allowing the state to reimburse spouses for these services" (source: Home Care Daily - National Home Care Industry News)
We hope you found this synopsis of recent legislative changes aiding senior life helpful, and that if eligible, you or your loved ones take advantage of these programs!