Saturday, May 18, 2013
(Continued from page 1)
Staff file photo
There's also an economic argument. Kaiser Family Health Foundation recently estimated that Maine would save $690 million between 2014 and 2022 if it expanded Medicaid. The estimate also was cited by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Medicaid expansion is supported widely by Democrats. House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, has said that expansion is the "right thing to do morally, practically and economically."
The Democratic argument will continue Wednesday when lawmakers hold a news conference to support L.D. 1066. The bill to expand Medicaid in Maine is sponsored by Rep. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham, a retired family physician.
"A great many of physicians think this is the right thing to do," Sanborn said Tuesday.
Sanborn's bill has several Republican co-sponsors. However, the pressure on Republican lawmakers to spurn expansion remains and is expected to increase.
House Republican leader Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, last week released a statement saying that "the federal government keeps dangling bait in front of us and we keep on taking it."
Fredette said Medicaid had given the state "nine-figure cost overruns at Maine's Department of Health and Human Services and saddled our hospitals with $500 million in unpaid Medicaid bills. Maine cannot afford more broken promises and bait-and-switch hard-sells from Washington."
The pressure already has gotten to at least one Republican co-sponsor of Sanborn's expansion bill.
Sanborn said one lawmaker called her Tuesday, saying she was under pressure from the Republican caucus to withdraw her co-sponsorship. She would not say who was exerting the pressure.
"It's discouraging but not surprising," Sanborn said. "They (the co-sponsors) haven't committed to supporting the bill. They just think we should be talking about (Medicaid expansion), but they're also afraid of the pushback."
Steve Mistler -- 620-7016