August 15, 2012

Pingree urges feds to block LePage cuts to Medicaid

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, is urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to make sure Maine cannot move forward with Medicaid cuts that will strip an estimated 27,000 low-income Mainers of publicly-subsidized health care.

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U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

AP

Pingree's letter to DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asks the federal government to reaffirm rules in the federal health care law that prohibit states from making deep cuts in their respective Medicaid programs. Pingree wrote that Maine and other states should still have to abide by a provision in the Affordable Care Act that require states to maintain current Medicaid eligibility levels through 2014.

But Republican Gov. Paul LePage, whose administration sought and won approval for the Medicaid eligibility changes from the GOP-controlled Legislature, fired back on Tuesday afternoon, accusing Pingree of supporting President Obama's health care law at the expense of Mainers.

"Unlike Congress, Maine must balance its budget and all the Congresswoman has done is made it harder for our state to be fiscally responsible," LePage said in a statement. "She's part of big bloated government that hiked the debt ceiling to $16.4 trillion and is now saying that Maine should be forced to increase the burden on the taxpayers she claims to represent."

The Legislature this year passed several cuts in the state's Medicaid program that would eliminate coverage for seniors and people with disabilities in the Medicare Savings Program, 19- and 20-year olds and parents with incomes between 100% and 133% of the Federal Poverty Level.

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