AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Veterans’ Properties will get $2.6 million from a state marijuana fund to shut a funding hole between Medicare charges and the price of caring for Mainers who served within the army underneath a plan accredited by lawmakers on Wednesday.
However the one-time cash superior out of the price range committee is simply a patch for subsequent yr, which suggests the Legislature might want to talk about a long-term funding supply when it returns in January to maintain the group afloat, each advocates and officers stated.
The Senate must log off on the funding earlier than sending it to Gov. Janet Mills for ultimate approval. Lawmakers on the price range panel who had been making ultimate selections Wednesday evening on which payments to fund this yr accredited the one-time cash for Maine Veterans’ Properties by pulling the $2.6 million from a medical marijuana fund.
Sen. Brad Farrin, R-Norridgewock, who sponsored the invoice to fund the group that operates six houses across the state serving greater than 500 veterans, stated the $2.6 million and about $765,000 that Mills included in her just lately accredited addition to a two-year price range will assist unlock federal funding to shut a $10.3 million funding hole for Maine Veterans’ Properties.
“Whereas it’s good and form of takes the stress off for a yr, we mainly simply kicked the can down the highway,” Farrin stated Thursday. “We’ll have to return and take a look at this once more.”
The brand new funding arose from discussions on a extra sustainable path ahead for Maine Veterans’ Properties that ramped up after Mills and the Legislature accredited $3.5 million in 2022 to forestall two of the extra distant houses in Caribou and Machias from closing.
The opposite Maine Veterans’ Properties services are in Augusta, Bangor, South Paris and Scarborough. The Legislature established Maine Veterans’ Properties in 1977 as a quasi-state entity, however the houses usually solely obtain funding from Medicare, Medicaid, non-public insurance coverage and charitable donations.
The group is “assured the dialog will proceed within the Legislature,” spokesperson Christine Henson stated.
“The group is extraordinarily grateful for the time and a spotlight that legislators have paid to our plight and to listening to the actual scenario because it exists for us,” Henson stated.
In February, lawmakers additionally voted to launch an investigation into the funds of Maine Veterans’ Properties following a whistleblower grievance that questioned its fiscal selections. Henson stated Thursday the group continues to answer the inquiry and is “very assured in our fiscal administration.”