Governor Mills Signs Executive Order Establishing Cabinet on Aging

Executive order directs state agencies to work together to ensure Maine’s seniors age in healthy, safe communities with dignity and support

Portland, Maine – Keeping a promise from her State of the State Address, Governor Janet Mills today signed an Executive Order establishing a Cabinet on Aging.

The Cabinet’s creation comes at a time when Maine’s median age makes it the nation’s oldest state, with tens of thousands of people set to retire in the coming years, removing them from the workforce. state work and increasing the demand for services related to aging. .

The Cabinet will help Maine prepare for and respond to these demographic shifts by proposing policies that will help the people of Maine age safely, affordably and in the manner and within the parameters that best meet their needs. their needs. The Cabinet will bring state government agencies together to improve coordination and accelerate action.

The Cabinet is made up of Commissioners from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labour, Economic and Community Development, Administrative and Financial Services, Professional and Financial Regulation, Public Safety and Transportation, as well as the Director of the Maine State Housing Authority. The Health and Social Services and Labor Commissioners will co-chair the Cabinet. The bipartisan, biennial budget included a staff member to support this work across state government in the Governor’s Office for Policy Innovation and the Future.

The Governor made the announcement at Sam L. Cohen Households at The Cedars in Portland. This newly opened facility is one of two “model senior living households” in the state. This model provides residents with a family environment, contribution to daily activities and state-of-the-art care to preserve their quality of life. It aligns with models envisioned in Maine’s age-friendly state plan, which includes improvements ranging from housing to support services to accessible outdoor spaces.

“The people of Maine work hard all their lives and they deserve to age comfortably in the communities they love,” said Governor Janet Mills. “With the creation of the Cabinet on Aging, we can advance policies across state government that ensure the needs of Maine residents are met as they age.”

“The Cabinet on Aging formalizes the coordination within the Maine state government that has protected elderly residents during the pandemic,” said Jeanne Lambew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “The Cabinet will build on these efforts to continue to make Maine a healthy place to grow old.”

“Older workers are a vital part of our state’s economy,” said Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. “We continue to hear from older workers who want to re-enter the workforce, but face barriers. We are committed to connecting all workers with rewarding work. The new Cabinet on Aging is one way to strengthen the current coordination of services for older people, whatever their goals – including retirement or employment. We are also committed to ensuring that there is a skilled workforce across the state to provide quality support services that enable people to age with dignity in their homes and communities.

“Sam L. Cohen Homes exceeds our expectations for providing truly person-centered care in a family setting while creating a workplace that empowers staff to lead and grow,” said Kathy Callnan, President and CEO of Cedars. “By coordinating statewide efforts, Governor Mills’ Cabinet on Aging will support organizations like The Cedars, Maine seniors who deserve to age well in homes like The Households and Staff that provides quality care.

“Today, more than ever, Maine’s aging population needs our help,” said Megan Walton, CEO of the Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging. “Through the creation of the Cabinet on Aging, we will shine a light on our state’s seniors who need information, resources, tools and support to live and thrive in their own communities.”

“The Governor’s action to establish the Cabinet on Aging will improve the lives of Maine’s senior citizens, who are the fastest growing segment of our population and deserve a coordinated effort by the state government to address their needs,” said Brenda Gallant, Maine Long-Term Care Ombudsman. “The Cabinet will have the opportunity to build on the work already done to address the urgent shortage of direct care workers, affordable housing and investments in long-term care services. We look forward to working closely with Cabinet members to address the challenges Maine will face in the years to come. »

“It’s a great step forward for our state to have older Mainers represented in Maine’s policy-making in a clear and coordinated way,” said Sen. Eloise Vitelli of Sagadahoc County, Sen. Marianne Moore of Washington County, Rep. Jessica Fay of Raymond, and Rep. Will Tuell of East Machias, Legislative Aging Caucus Co-Chairs. “We look forward to partnering with the Governor’s new Cabinet on Aging to bring the voices and experiences of older Mainers who have so much to offer to our state to the fore. »

The Cabinet must meet at least four times a year. The Cabinet will hold its first meeting in July, on a date to be announced, and will meet quarterly thereafter to coordinate and advance work on affordable housing and long-term services and supports; financial security and fraud protection; access to information, broadband and services; and engagement and employment in Maine’s growing economy.

This announcement is the latest in the Governor’s initiatives to support senior residents, including:

  • Signing of voter-approved senior housing bondsretained by its predecessor, to finance the construction of more than 200 new affordable housing units for low-income seniors and the weatherization of another 100 existing units for low-income seniors;
  • Enact the Largest Public Housing Investment in Maine History. LD 1645, An Act To Create Affordable Workforce and Senior Housing and Preserve Affordable Rural Housing, sponsored by President Ryan Fecteau, increases the current rate of production of new affordable housing by creating the Maine Affordable Housing Tax Credit program .
  • Maine’s Drug for the Elderly program restoredwhich was cut by the previous administration and helps Maine seniors pay for prescription drugs;
  • Launch of the State Property Tax Deferral Programa vital loan program through the Governor of Maine’s Jobs and Recovery Plan that can cover the annual property tax bills of eligible Maine people age 65 and older or permanently disabled who cannot not afford to pay them themselves;
  • Launched a $1.5 million recruiting effort through its Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to recruit young people to enter healthcare careers, including direct caregiver jobs, such as aides for older Mainers or people with disabilities .
  • Extend the increased delivery of food delivered to homes for seniors and caregivers through meals on wheels during the pandemic;
  • Join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communitiesa decision hailed by AARP as a major step in making Maine more livable for people of all ages, and the release of an age-friendly state plan, the culmination of more than a year of collaboration with AARP and more than 50 other organizations statewide develop a comprehensive strategy to help older Maine residents live well and safely in their communities;
  • Establishment of the Elder Justice Coordinating Partnership in 2019 to address elder abuse in Maine and, in 2022, releasing the Elder Justice Roadmap, the first state report focused on addressing elder abuse compiled by public and private sector experts through the Governor’s Elder Justice Coordinating Partnership.
  • Offer a tax cut to Maine retirees through the Supplementary Budget, which, by exempting the Maine Supplementary Retirement Pension from income tax, will provide an average tax reduction of $560 in the first year alone.
  • Invest unprecedented funding to support long-term care facilities and home and community services for seniors in Maine.
  • Saving Maine Veterans’ Homes in Caribou and Machias passing legislation, sponsored by Senate Speaker Troy Jackson and passed unanimously by the state legislature, and releasing $3.5 million through the budget.
  • Prioritizing Older Maine Residents – those most at risk of COVID-19 – to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, when supplies were limited. Despite having the oldest median age population in the nation, Maine, adjusted for population, ranks third in total COVID-19 cases and fourth in number of deaths from COVID-19.

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