Inside Augusta

VIDEO: Governor LePage: election-year politics delay Maine's Medicaid reforms

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Feds delay approval process by responding at last minute

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage today released a video to inform Mainers about the political games being played in Washington, D.C. which directly impact the State of Maine. The Governor’s announcement, available on www.maine.gov/governor, relates to the untimely manner in which the Federal Government has responded to Maine’s State Plan Amendment (SPA) that will allow legislatively-approved changes in Maine’s Medicaid program to be implemented.

Additionally, Governor LePage reached out to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss the matter by phone today and sent a letter.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had 90 days (until November 1) to make a decision on Maine’s SPA, which sought to eliminate Medicaid coverage for 19 and 20-year-olds and reduce coverage for non-pregnant and non-disabled adults to 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

Maine’s initial request was filed on August 1 and the State sought an expedited decision within 30 days. CMS’ Request for Additional Informationcame 86 days after the State’s SPA was submitted. Each month that passes without CMS approval costs the State $2.2 million dollars.

“Maine needs and deserves answers now,” Governor LePage told Sec. Sebelius during a phone conversation today.

Because the information CMS requested on the 86th day does not affect the substance of the request and could have been answered with a quick telephone call, the Governor asked Sec. Sebelius today for the Department to reconsider its actions and instead focus on strengthening Maine’s welfare system. By phone and in a letter, Governor LePage explained that this is only stalling the process which is unacceptable and outrageous.

“Delaying tactics, such as the immaterial questions CMS sent to Commissioner Mayhew, will not solve the problem. It might trigger an additional ninety day window for CMS to “review” our SPA, but it paralyzes Maine’s ability to design sustainable programs and leaves Maine people at risk. Action is necessary to allow Maine to rebalance our welfare programs ensuring we can pay the bills to help the truly impoverished get back on their feet, support our vulnerable children, and clear the waiting lists for those who have true need of services,” the Governor wrote.

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson was the editor of The Maine Wire from 2013 through 2014. A native of Dexter, Maine, Robinson is a graduate of Bowdoin College, and is currently a Producer for The Howie Carr Show in Boston.

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