May 17, 2013

LePage: MaineCare broke in three weeks without new budget

Democrats counterattack, claim 'mismanagement' of state agency; summon Commissioner Mary Mayhew to emergency meeting Sunday

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Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, left, and Gov. Paul LePage answer questions during a news conference on Thursday in the State House in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

In recent weeks, Democrats have linked expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act to that proposal — angering LePage, as he has blamed cost overruns on Maine's earlier expansion of Medicaid, a program he considers too large and generous.

He and Republicans say the repayment and expansion issues are separate, while Democrats say expanding the program would ensure that thousands more Mainers would receive health care and increase patient volume for hospitals.

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation has projected that Maine would save $690 million in the next 10 years if it accepts federal dollars under the Affordable Care Act to provide care to about 55,000 Mainers.

The federal government has said it would fund expansion fully from 2014 to 2016, after which the reimbursement rate would decline gradually to 90 percent, with the state paying the rest. Republican critics say trusting continued reimbursement is unwise because of ongoing federal deficit problems.

"It is morally and economically the right thing to do to address the costs of health care for our hospitals and our people," Alfond said in a Wednesday statement. "People's lives are on the line. Now is the time to do this."

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652
Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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