Wednesday night, House Republicans once again said no to Medicaid expansion for the sixth time. While LD 633, “An Act To Improve the Health of Maine Citizens and the Economy of Maine by Providing Affordable Market-based Coverage Options to Low-income Uninsured Citizens,” ultimately passed the House by a vote of 85-64, there were more than enough votes to sustain a likely veto from the Governor.
Expanding Medicaid has sent numerous states into fiscal turmoil. For the past four years they have tried to pass expansion using false promises of job growth and increased revenue for the state. This particular bill promised $20 million in savings that are not even identified in the bill. The main problem with these Medicaid expansion bills is the fact that their ardent supporters grossly underestimate the amount of new enrollees these states will have in their Medicaid programs, thus driving up the costs exponentially.
To see the reality of Medicaid expansion you need only to look at states that have expanded:
- Vermont: The state now projects a $30 million shortfall for the current fiscal year and a $60 million gap in the next fiscal year due to Medicaid expansion.
- Illinois: Original projections were for 342,000 new Illinoisans on the roles and additional costs of $573 million from 2017 to 2020. Those estimates were subsequently revised to more than 540,000 enrollees and at least $907 million in additional costs.
- New Mexico: The state projected large savings as a result of Medicaid expansion. Those savings have not materialized, leaving a Medicaid shortfall of $85 million in FY 2017.
“No matter how they try to dress it up, Medicaid expansion would be a fiscal disaster for Maine. We don’t need to look any farther than states like Vermont, Illinois, New Mexico and Kentucky who expanded Medicaid and saw enrollment soar past their projections, blowing massive holes in their budgets,” said Rep. Deb Sanderson, ranking House Republican on the Health and Human Services Committee.
“Thanks to Governor LePage and the House Republicans steadfast refusal to expand Medicaid in Maine, and the tireless work of DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, the Department of Health and Human Services is back on its feet financially after years of managing from crisis to crisis. That would not be the case if we had chosen to expand Medicaid.”