Question 1: Citizen Initiative

Do you want to create the Universal Home Care Program to provide home-based assistance to people with disabilities and senior citizens, regardless of income, funded by a new 3.8 percent tax on individuals and families with Maine wage and adjusted gross income above the amount subject to Social Security taxes, which is $128,400 in 2018?

 

This bill would establish a new Universal Home Care Program to provide “in-home and community support services” to senior citizens (65 years of age or older) and persons with physical or mental disabilities residing in Maine who need assistance with at least one activity of daily living. Eligibility would not be income-based and services would be free.

The program would be funded by a new tax of 3.8 percent on both wage income and non-wage income. The new taxes are expected to generate $310 million. Taxes would be applied to earnings over a threshold is equal to the limit on the amount of wages that are subject to Social Security taxes under existing federal law. For wages earned in 2018, this amount is $128,400. The tax on wage income beyond that threshold would be split between employers and employees at the rate of 1.9 percent each. The 3.8 percent tax also would apply to non-wage income, such as interest or dividends, over the threshold.

All of the tax revenue collected would be deposited in the Universal Home Care Trust Fund to be administered by a nine-member “Universal Home Care Trust Fund Board.” The board’s responsibilities would include creating a process for assessing individuals’ needs and determining the extent of services each person may receive, establishing quality and safety standards for care, setting reimbursement rates for providers, creating a system for providing stipends to family caregivers, and managing the program within the limits of available resources in the fund.