January 19

OUR OPINION: Missing out on Medicaid would be costly mistake

Republican lawmakers still have a chance to strike a compromise that benefits the state.

(Continued from page 1)

The nonpartisan Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured projects that states that do not expand Medicaid will see their spending on the program increase at a faster rate than those that do accept the federal funds. That’s because expanded Medicaid will increase the federal responsibility in other areas such as community mental health treatment, saving the states money.

As Maine Hospital Association President Steven R. Michaud wrote in a recent column in the Portland Press Herald, denying insurance to low-income Mainers does not make their problems go away. “The Legislature is not voting on whether to expand Maine’s population by 70,00 people. These people are here. They get sick now. They require care today,” he wrote. The question is how to pay for it.

Now it is up to the Legislature to answer that question.

Republican lawmakers may not have voted for the Affordable Care Act, but that’s not what’s on the table now. Instead, there is a compromise bill that puts the state in a position to receive the fullest benefit from the federal program.

They have a choice: Show their disapproval for the federal policy, or make the best deal for Maine. We hope they don’t miss this opportunity to govern.

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