Commentary

LePage Sends Blistering Letter to Paul Ryan

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Since the release of the House Republican “plan” for repealing Obamacare, conservative reaction has been dismal at best. It has been roundly attacked by several prominent conservative organizations, as well as many public officials. Senator Rand Paul deemed the plan “Obamacare Lite.”

In Maine, Governor Paul LePage wasted no time blasting the plan, registering his disappointment with it on a radio appearance Tuesday morning. “Right now I am very, very discouraged and disappointed with what House Republicans are introducing,” LePage said. “We don’t know what the cost is, but based on what I see and I’m reading and what has happened over the last 15 years, I don’t think it’s an improvement. I think we’re punting the ball, is what we’re doing.”

In the limited time since he gave that interview, LePage has stepped up his criticism, and is emerging as a national leader advocating for much deeper reforms to the Federal healthcare leviathan.

Tuesday afternoon, LePage sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, lobbing a withering attack on the nascent legislation, particularly its failure to deal with the Medicaid system in any kind of rational way.

LePage was clear in his message. “I support a truly conservative, free market replacement of ObamaCare that would completely roll back Medicaid expansion for non-disabled adults and provide Medicaid dollars to states in the form of block grants.”

The governor then informed Ryan of the attempt this year in Maine to pass Medicaid expansion by referendum, and recounted the destructive nature of previous expansions under Democratic Governor John Baldacci. He then suggested a number of alternatives, including mandating Medicaid include work requirements, asset tests, copays, premium contributions and fees for missed appointments.

Right now, there has been a noticeable lack of leadership among national conservatives, as well as state governors. Very few seem to be advocating for a serious solution to healthcare which fully repeals ObamaCare and reforms the system into a functioning, market based solution that limits government involvement. Many of the loudest critics of the Affordable Care Act have already backed down, hopelessly compromising themselves.

Governor LePage’s letter represents an attempt to step into that vacuum of national leadership on the issue. As one of a shrinking minority of Republican governors in states that did not expand Medicaid, he is also one of the only national leaders that has any credibility on healthcare among the base. Only time will tell if he, and others like him, will be able to influence congressional republicans to take a bolder position on the repeal of the ACA.

LePage’s letter is reproduced below.

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center. Prior to his tenure at MHPC, Matt spent eight years working in national politics in Washington, D.C., most recently as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association. A Hampden native, Matt is a nationally recognized political strategist and communicator.

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