Phil Bartlett, Maine State Senate District Six  

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Senator Bartlett and Representative Driscoll Urge Restoration of Larrabee Village Funding

February 7, 2008

Senator Philip Bartlett II ( D-Cumberland County ) and Representative Timothy Driscoll (D-Westbrook) have sent a joint letter urging Governor Baldacci to rethink a cut in funding for the Independent Housing Services Program at Larrabee Village in Westbrook.

The program, which provides seniors residing at Larrabee Village with services that help them to live in their own apartments and avoid nursing home care, was cut by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the curtailment order and supplemental budget proposed by the Governor to help meet the anticipated revenue shortfall. The impact of the cuts will begin within a few weeks.

“This is a very cost-effective, minimal set of services that keeps people living with a maximum of independence and dignity,” Senator Bartlett said. “The people affected by this cut are frail, older and need these services to live on their own.”

“Many seniors moved into Larrabee Village with the understanding that these services would always be there for them, and they planned their lives accordingly,” Bartlett added. “To cut them off suddenly in this way is unfair.”

“It is clear that we will have some very hard choices to make in this budget but this is not a good option,” said Driscoll. “Without the services this program provides the only choice for many of the residents of Larrabee Village will be nursing home or assisted living care, both of which will result in far greater expense to the state over time."

The Legislature will be determining the future of these cuts as they work on the supplemental budget over the next few weeks.

Text of the Letter to the Governor

February 6, 2008

Governor John E. Baldacci
State House Station 1
Augusta, ME 04333

Dear Governor Baldacci,

We are writing to you to express our strong opposition to the cut in funding for the independent living program at Larrabee Village in Westbrook. We fully understand that there is a serious shortfall in revenue that must be addressed, but we contend that this is not an appropriate cut for two reasons, and urge that you reconsider this action.

The first reason is that it doesn’t make financial sense. The model used at Larrabee Village provides an absolute minimum of assistance to keep frail seniors living independently. Without this type of assistance, people in these circumstances tend to deteriorate quickly, and the only real alternative they would have then is nursing home care, which comes with a much higher cost, both financially and socially. This trading of a short-term saving for a long-term, much higher cost, alternative is the sort of cost cutting we can ill-afford.

Even if it could be argued that the finances made sense, then the time frames involved are far too short. The people impacted by this cut are very vulnerable, and they have planned their lives around the continued availability of the independent living services they receive. They have moved, sold houses and made other arrangements so that they could live as long as possible with a maximum of personal independence and dignity, and now the safety net they have counted on will be pulled out from under them in just a few weeks. It will take these people months at the very least to rearrange their lives to adjust to this sort of change. Most of the people impacted will not qualify for other programs, and those that do face waiting lists to get into those programs. To implement this sort of change in the timeframe proposed is thoughtless at best, and cruel at worst.

We sincerely hope that you will not pursue this proposal, at least not in its current form, and that you make this decision soon to prevent any further distress for this fragile population. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you, and look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.

Signed by Phil Bartlett and Tim Driscoll