AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul R. LePage on Friday delivered a letter to to Democratic leaders challenging their decision to merge payment of Medicaid debt with Medicaid expansion.
“While Democratic leadership is engaging in Washington-style politics and strong-arming members of its caucus to vote against the wishes of the Maine people, crisis is looming that will affect our most needy citizens,” LePage wrote in a letter to Senate President Justin L. Alfond (D-Portland) and House Speaker Mark W. Eves (D-North Berwick).
“Democratic leaders are so focused on expanding welfare to cover able-bodied people, they have forgotten about the Mainers who are already on Medicaid,” wrote LePage.
LePage referenced a May 17 letter from Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew warning that HHS is facing a hard funding deadline on May 28. (See the letter below.)
State Houses sources said Republicans are formulating two amendments that will be offered when the Democratic omnibus bill comes up for a vote before the full Legislature. One amendment will separate the two proposals. The other will form a commission to study the viability of Medicaid expansion.
If Democrats block these amendments, non-essential government workers could be furloughed or underemployed and Medicaid could go unfunded.
LePage said Democrats would be responsible if the Legislature does not pass a budget.
“Months ago I proposed a balanced budget, and I proposed a plan to pay back our hospitals,” wrote LePage. “Democrats have rejected my balanced-budget proposal, but they have failed to put forth their own budget plan,” he wrote. “Political posturing by Democratic leadership now has the state employees’ union fearing for a government shutdown.”
Wrote LePage, “A shutdown is determined by law, not by a governor. If the legislature fails to pass a budget, I have no authority to spend money. With no money, government shuts down. But I am not planning for a shutdown. I submitted my plan five months ago.”
“What is your plan? Mainer’s deserve to know.”
Read the governor’s letter:
Commissioner Mayhew said in her letter to LePage that the social safety net HHS operates could collapse if the Legislature continues on its current course.