FARMINGDALE, Maine — Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, now in-home care organizations are closing their doors.
Home Care for Maine, a Farmingdale company will close its doors at the end of April, leaving close to 600 patients without care and more than 350 three people without jobs.
"We are in a crisis quite frankly. We're not developing into a crisis, we're in one," Home Care for Maine's attorney Newell Augur said.
The elder care crisis is in the state with the nation's oldest average age.
"The reimbursement rate has not kept up with the increases in the minimum wage... there's been no adjustment in the reimbursement rate to reflect that increase," Augur said.
On January 1, the minimum wage went up to $12 an hour, but MaineCare reimbursement has remained the same.
"We want to pay our workers a living wage. We want to pay them more than what we're paying them now," Augur said.
MaineCare reimbursements are $20.52 an hour, insurance reimbursements are $26 an hour, and VA reimbursements are $28.88 an hour, making it more attractive to facility owners to take on VA clients, according to Mathew Shankweiler of In-Home Care L.L.C.
His service covers a variety of patients.
"Our balance of clients has remained us to stay viable. If we only had MaineCare clients... we would probably be closing our doors as well," Shankweiler said.
Shankweiler added he wants to work with Home Care for Maine and take on its employees and clients. He also says by having more people use in-home care, the state is saving money.
"It is probably 60 percent less expensive than if you were to put that person into a fixed facility," Shankweiler said.
But that's not always possible.
In the current state budget, there are funds to increase MaineCare reimbursements to nursing homes, but not to in-home care practices.