Commentary

A Bill That’s Still Bad for Maine

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The push for Medicaid expansion in Maine perfectly fits the common saying “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”

Liberal lawmakers have tirelessly pushed for an expansion of Medicaid, which is a government insurance program that provides free or low-cost health insurance for those with limited income.

Maine has rejected Medicaid expansion a stunning five times, but unfortunately, some legislators are still trying everything to push this bad public policy through Augusta.

State Senators Tom Saviello (R-Wilton) and Roger Katz (R-Augusta) have recently put forth a bill that attempts to tie Medicaid expansion to drug addition, asserting that expanding Medicaid will help combat the state’s heroin crisis.

And now, they’ve amended their bill in an attempt to make it more palatable and to minimize opposition to this costly and expensive endeavor.

The Medicaid expansion bill would allow Maine to receive federal Medicaid funding, and allow individuals who earn between 138% and 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to pay a small premium for insurance.

Traditional Medicaid expansion does not require this gimmicky feature, which will likely do little to offset any costs that the state would incur.

And while the fiscal note for this bill has not yet been produced, conservative lawmakers are already pointing out the obvious.

“Our Medicaid budget is fiscally stable. Why would you want to put it into a tailspin now?” said State Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea).

“Maine has been down this road before, and we must learn from previous experience,” Governor LePage pointed out in 2014.  “Medicaid spending grew by $1 billion in a decade, hospital bills were not being paid by the state, budgets were broken and thousands of elderly and people with disabilities were forced to wait for critical services.”

So the fact remains; expanding Medicaid and jeopardizing our financial future is simply wrong for Maine.

About Patrick Marvin

Patrick Marvin is a former Policy Analyst for The Maine Heritage Policy Center. He holds a Masters Degree from the University of New Hampshire, and has an extensive background in analysis and research.

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