- The Maine Wire - https://www.themainewire.com -

Medicaid expansion passes House without veto proof margin

745px-MaineStateHouse1AUGUSTA – A proposal to expand Medicaid pursuant to the Affordable Care Act passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday, but failed to garner the two-thirds support needed to override Gov. Paul LePage’s inevitable veto.

The vote, 97-49, comes after backers of the proposal failed to get a super majority in the Senate to approve the bill, introduced by Sens. Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) and Tom Saviello (R-Franklin).

The Katz-Saviello proposal (L.D. 1487) faces further enactment votes in the House and Senate before LePage can veto it. Unless something has changed in the Senate, it is expected to die there.

But that won’t be the end of expansion debates.

The House has yet to vote on House Speaker Mark Eves (D-North Berwick)’s expansion bill. Unlike the Katz-Saviello proposal, Eves’ bill does not contain any 3-year sunset provision or managed care contracts and is virtually identical to the proposal that failed last year.

According to House Republicans, all GOP representatives expected to support expansion were present for the vote, while a few opposed were absent for health reasons. With full attendance, opposition to the bill would only grow.

“Some House Republicans who supported Medicaid expansion last year are now opposing it because they see funding for nursing homes, environmental protection, and other priorities being siphoned off to pay for the Medicaid program we already have,” said House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport).

“Others are reluctant to expand welfare to able-bodied adults, most of whom can already pick up coverage if they chip in about $10 per month on the exchange,” he said.

“This is a battle between Maine’s past and Maine’s future,” said Fredette.  “Republicans are fighting to break the status quo of welfare, debt, spending, and economic stagnation in order to introduce economic growth, fiscal responsibility, and welfare reform for the benefit of all Mainers.”