Maine governor says he won't implement voter-approved Medicaid expansion without full funding

On Tuesday, Maine became the 32nd state to approve Medicaid expansion and the first to do so via referendum. But Republican Gov. Paul LePage is pushing back.

In a statement released the day after the vote, the governor referenced costs associated with the initiative, saying taxpayers would be on the hook for "hundreds of millions of dollars."

"The last time Maine experimented with Medicaid expansion in 2002 under then-Gov. Angus King, it created a $750 million debt to hospitals, resulted in massive budget shortfalls every year, did not reduce emergency room use, did not reduce the number of uninsured Mainers and took resources away from our most vulnerable residents — the elderly and the intellectually and physically disabled," Mr. LePage said.

He went on to say he will not implement Medicaid expansion without full funding from state lawmakers.

"Credit agencies are predicting that this fiscally irresponsible Medicaid expansion will be ruinous to Maine's budget," he said. "Therefore, my administration will not implement Medicaid expansion until it has been fully funded by the legislature at the levels [the Maine] DHHS [Department of Health and Human Services] has calculated, and I will not support increasing taxes on Maine families, raiding the rainy day fund or reducing services to our elderly or disabled."

Maine Senate Democratic leader Troy Jackson responded in his own statement, indicating that Democrats will fight efforts to stop full implementation of the voters' wishes.

"Democrats will not give an inch in this fight, because it is a matter of life and death. We will give no quarter to anyone who tries to take healthcare away from those hardworking Mainers who have been allowed to fall through the cracks for too long," he said.

Maine Equal Justice Partners, a liberal advocacy group, put the Medicaid expansion issue on the November ballot after Mr. LePage vetoed multiple legislative attempts to expand coverage to more low-income residents. If Medicaid expansion is fully implemented, approximately 80,000 Mainers will be able to gain coverage.

 

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