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Last week I met a woman in her 80s whose husband has dementia. She has lunch with him every single day at the nursing home that cares for him. If the nursing home had to close, she would be forced to drive hours to see him in another facility.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

The Legislature must take action on our nursing homes.

Many Mainers have loved ones in nursing homes. But some of them in rural areas are in danger of closing. Two have already announced they will shut their doors in July. Not only is this sad for our elderly and their families, it is also avoidable. I worked with Republican leadership just a few short months ago to find more than $5 million that could be used to care for our elderly in Maine’s nursing homes.

But the liberal legislative leadership rejected this source of funding, which would have spurred about $8 million in federal dollars.

The $5 million is still sitting there. The Legislature can take action on my proposal to fund nursing homes before another facility is forced to close. Our elderly should not have to live in fear. They should not have to worry if they will have a place to call home tomorrow.

On behalf of all Mainers who are concerned about our elderly, I have sent a letter to Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves to call back the Legislature to vote on funding the nursing homes.

Senator Alfond represents an urban area with plenty of nursing facilities, and Representative Eves represents people who have easy access to urban areas. They may favor large corporations that buy up nursing homes and consolidate them in urban areas.

But that doesn’t help Mainers in rural parts of our state. They simply do not understand how difficult it is for Mainers in the rest of the state to find nursing homes that are close to home.

Maine families should not have to drive hours to see their loved ones. We must do everything we can to support all of our nursing homes, but especially those in the rural areas. All members of the Legislature should have the opportunity to show Mainers whether they support our elderly by taking a straight up-or-down vote on my proposal.

The Senate is already coming back into session on July 31 to vote on judicial nominations. That would be a good day to convene the entire Legislature. Our elderly cannot wait any longer.

Thank you for listening.

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