LePage says he will veto all bills until Legislature pays Maine hospitals

AUGUSTA — In a statement made on a radio talk show, Gov. Paul LePage said Friday he will veto every bill that comes to his desk until the Legislature passes legislation ensuring the state's debt to its hospitals is paid.

Paul LePage
AP file photo

Gov. Paul LePage has threatened to veto every bill that comes across his desk until the state pays $186 million owed to Maine hospitals.

"I'm going to lay out a little plan that I have," LePage told WVOM radio host Ric Tyler in a telephone conversation. "Every single bill that is passed now until the hospital payment is passed is going to be vetoed."

LePage's statements opened up a round of dueling news conferences at the State House on Friday as leaders in the Legislature's Democratic majority offered reaction, followed by Republicans leaders, followed by a news conference with Gerry Reid, director of the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operation.

The heart of LePage's plan to pay back the $484 million the state and federal government owe Maine's hospitals for care provided to recipients of the state's Medicaid program, known as MaineCare, depends on the state renegotiating its contract with the company that runs the state's liquor business.

The state owes Maine hospitals about $186 million to cover its share of the cost of MaineCare. That payment would draw down an additional $298 million in federal funds, according to LePage's office. The governor has said the payment is critical to the state's economic recovery including the state's bond rating, which determines how much the state will pay in interest for big projects.

A state contract with Maine Beverage, the company currently running the state's alcohol business, expires in 2014. Reid told reporters Friday that the state was hoping to renegotiate better terms. Maine Beverage makes an estimated $45 million on the contract and paid about $8 million of that back to the state in 2012, Reid said.

LePage said he made the veto announcement last week, but Democratic leaders in the Legislature ignored him. "They can keep ignoring me, but my (veto) pens are right up there."

Democrats were quick to respond to the statement Friday.

“Today, the governor told the people of Maine that the hospitals are more important than they are," Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said in a prepared statement. "I disagree."

Later Jackson said, "You know, this is not a dictatorship."

In his address, LePage said the Legislature recently passed an emergency bill to seal off information on concealed handgun permits, and did it in about 24 hours. He also mentioned a bill that was moving ahead of the hospital debt legislation that would allow bars to open at 6 a.m. on Sunday, St. Patrick's Day.

"If that's more important than paying the hospitals, then I think we have a problem," LePage said. "Until they move forward on that, I'm not moving forward on any legislation. Nothing at all."

LePage even threatened to veto his own bills. He said he was given three pens recently by a citizen who provided them so the governor would have them on hand for the vetoes.

"She gave me three, because she said one's never going to get it done," LePage said.

Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, offered a sharp rebuke to the governor Friday.

"This is not governing," Goodall said in a statement. "This is not leadership. It is the type of political gamesmanship that doesn't belong here in Maine. I suspect the people of Maine want leaders, not schoolyard bullies. We have serious challenges facing our economy and we should be focused on finding solutions, not making threats."

Republicans pointed out that a bill that would extend drinking hours for St. Patrick's Day — allowing bars to open at 6 a.m. when it falls on a Sunday — moved forward before any bills addressing the hospital debt.

"It looks like they are fast-tracking bills and delaying others," Adrienne Bennett, LePage's communications director, told reporters Friday afternoon. 

Bennett agreed the bill for St. Patrick's Day wasn't as complex as the hospital debt bills, but the governor's bill has been in the system for at least 45 days and wasn't scheduled for a public hearing until March 11. She said the hearing on the St. Patrick's Day bill was scheduled in 23 days.

"Clearly, Democrats can move quickly when they want to," Bennett said. "This is a bill that the governor feels will benefit the entire state, and we need to move forward on it and we need to start that public process."

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Robert Groetzinger's picture

Another lone Republican

Another lone Republican dictating how the Government will be run

VETO or FILIBUSTER

DICTATORS

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Why we owe

I have looked high and wide to try to find out how we ended up with this debt in the first place and that information is really hard to find. No one is shouting it to the rafters and so you can assume lots of people are fudging, spinning and dodging. If I have it right, the hospitals, through some kind of misunderstanding, provided medical care for several years to people who were not entitled to Medicare coverage. Apparently nobody noticed this until a few years ago. The hospitals say they provided the care and the state owes them anyway There was some discussion that the state did not owe this money since the coverage did not exist but this governor says that we not only owe this money but it should all be paid, at once, before anything else gets done in the state of Maine.I wonder if the hospitals tried to collect this kind of debt from the insurance companies how far they would get. In fact, I wonder if you hired somebody to build you a 6 room house and they built you a 12 room house because they misunderstood and said you owe them the money anyway because they did the work how successful they would be in getting paid. I think they should be paid eventually but I don't see the need to float large bonds or bankrupt the state to do it. There seems to be lots of blame to go around.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

We all know Paul LePage is a ....

We can all agree on what we feel of "Boss" LePage, Like him or hate him he's still an idiot. I have to ask, what exactly is paying off the hospital debt actually going to accomplish? Just how do the administrators of these hospitals feel that they are finally being paid their six and seven digit pay rates at the expense of the elderly "meals on wheels", or "Head Start" for the children to name a few. I'm not blaming the hospitals, it's not their fault the State of Maine screwed them over, but it's not my fault either. When this is all said and done in two thousand-who the f@$%k knows, his royal pain in my ass, will have already been defeated in a land slide election , and off living somewhere, on what ever benefits are given to a former State employee. For what? he uses threats of doing nothing to get his way. Every time you turn around he's threatening to not do anything(sign bills) to push the envelope. Imagine this line at a real job, " I'm just going to just stand here and smile, until you give me the corner office and a nice raise" you'll soon find yourself smiling to the clerk at the unemployment office. This just sets in concrete, my contention that "Common Sense" is not required to be Governor, or for that matter most elected offices. I say it's time to consider paying politicians based on what they do. If they accomplish anything they get a certain amount, if they just take up space we deduct some pay. Based on Paul LePage's actual time in office, the amount of actual accomplishments versus the time spent doing nothing, (threatening constituents), I have calculated that as on now, Lepage owes every tax payer in Maine $3.75 each, He's never going to have to suffer at his own hands, he will be living the high life long before this mess he's started is over. That's something you LePage lovers need to realize, your not all in this together, one of you has an out.......

Bob White's picture

Well what if you owned a

Well what if you owned a company and you were forced into do work for somebody and they said well will pay you but who knows when. As far as not being your fault WRONG Judgeing buy your comments Im sure you didnt vote for people that are pro economy. You can be jealous of people that are making money but guess what those are the people that spend money that keeps the world turning. I guess when you were growing up maybe you should have paid a bit more attention or maybe worked a bit harder so you could make the big bucks. Im sure in your small mind you have every good reason your where you are but that the problem with your jealous type its never your fault its the mean rich peoples fault. Believe it or not those mean rich people started the same way as you did just a twinkle in your fathers eye. So stop being jealous lets take responsiblity and pull our sleeves up and fix this problem because it is the right thing to do. We owe the money they need money to operate so instead of worrying about opening early on ST. Pats day lets take care of this because it effects alot of people. Here is one last thing what if we decided not to fund meals on wheels what would people say then. We sure wouldnt say gee its not my fault they can find their own food would we.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Very nicely put.....

In my small mind, and just what makes you think I'm jealous of the rich people? And believe it or not, your the second person this week who accused me of being responsible for being where I am. Where am I?
I do however agree with a couple of your points. We do need to pay down the debt. It needs to be done responsibly, not laced with threats and childish schoolyard bullying. I have not heard, his royal highness, once threaten to cut funding to the top wage earners in the state. No, he would rather go after the little guy, Well I happen to enjoy being the little guy, It wasn't my intention, but as long as I was thrust into this lifestyle I'm going to make the best of it. If nothing else, the handicapped parking is great. Oh, and as far as being a "twinkle" in my fathers eye? to hear my mother put it, it was more like a "lightning bolt from Hell".
As long as Paul LePage continues to bash the people struggling to get by, goes out of his way to deny health care to the needy, basically putting down us little people, I'll keep pointing out his deficiencies. Hell, I've worn out two key boards already on him. I don't care though, I am having fun........

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Vacationland

Maybe the Governor should take a long vacation someplace warm and leave the business of running the State of Maine to the adults. If the Republicans in the state house don't want to go down with him in the next election they should just retire this guy now and override all those vetos. As for the notion that paying down the hospital debt will help the economy, I would buy that if they didn't have the highest CEO pay in the state. Apparently they are not hurting as much as they say and the debt, while it should be paid, could be paid at a rate that the state can afford without crippling our safety net and keeping in mind the losses to our public schools from the sequestration.

Bob White's picture

I know your right if the last

I know your right if the last govoner would had been more responsible and paid our bills LaPage wouldnt have to be dealing with this huge problem. Your also right with the sequester if the President wouldnt had just kept kicking the can down the road and kept playing the blame game would could of had gotten it done. I know you would agree with me on this the president should have stepped up a while ago and instead not being opened minded and listen to everybody he could of gotten it done. I know Im tired of working hard to just get buy when you see alot of people just sking through. You see these people at the local gas stations getting power drinks and other things with EBT its just crazy.

Steve  Dosh's picture

LePage says he will veto all bills . ...

Mainers, March 1st 17:30 hst
It's coming in like a lion here in Hawai'i . Major and very strong winds
LePagecare ® Live for free . Die . The guy is a loose electron
Whelp , conga-rats to your anal-retentive Hon. Gov. for providing you - all - with the big bully approach to governing . Even Obama was talking today today about he ( our President ) was ' not a dictator ' and could not perform ' mind melts . '
Use the forcepts Luke . I am you ƒather
/s , Dr Dosh , Hawai'i :)

Steve  Dosh's picture

ƒriends. .17:45 ƒlyday in

ƒriends. .17:45 ƒlyday in Hawai'i
. .i dunno' what your governor is smoking or drinking , ( and don't care , quite frankly ) , but today our Democratic Governor Abercrombie told us here in Hawai'i he had already found > US$25M to cover the ? US$50M in lost revenue due to sequestration . It's the difference between living in the past and looking forward to and planning for the future .  /s, Steve :)

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

Will he hold his breath

and turn blue or just lie on the floor, kick his feet and scream?

LePage's bullying tactics and tantrums are wearing thin.

Maine needs a recall law. I know it'll never pass. There isn't a pol in either party willing to put himself or herself open to that kind of accountability. That doesn't change the need.

Maine needs to return LePage to Mardens as defective goods and elect an adult to Blaine House. I'm a Democrat, but I'd rather see Sen. Katz than John Baldacci, Hannah Pingree than Cutler. Let's just get someone over 21 who acts that way.

Bob White's picture

I see you make all kinds of

I see you make all kinds of comments of the govenor but you dont comment on why we ( senators ) havent taken care of this problem that has gone on before LaPage showed up. Maybe you should call those people childish names

Naran Row-Spaulding's picture

Gov. LePage Already Paid down $480 Million to Hospitals in 2011

Those who prefer to ignore the facts may be unaware, but Gov. LePage has ALREADY paid down over $480,000,000 in old hospital debts from the Baldacci era.

Gov. LePage paid down over $480MM to hospitals within his first two years in office, after being elected in Nov. 2010. Read the links below.

His new plans will pay down the NEXT $500,000,000 installment on old hospital bills, many still left from the Baldacci era.

Instead of namecalling and lying, Maine Democrats would be better off getting on board with Gov. LePage's plans, and stop displaying their complete disregard for Maine hospitals and the disabled and sick residents in need of help.

For over ten years, Maine hospitals have been taking out loans, laying off employees, and cutting jobs, because BALDACCI NEVER PAID THE BILLS.

****************

http://www.pressherald.com/opinion/state-should-pay-its-hospital-bill_20...
2011 - Maine Hospital Association Thanks LePage for Paying Down Old Debts

http://articles.boston.com/2011-01-13/news/29345955_1_hospital-debt-budg...
2011 - LePage Plans to Pay Down Old Hospital Debts by Leveraging State Money to Trigger Matching Federal Payments

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/01/12/health/with-supplemental-budget-le...
2011 - LePage Plans to Pay Down Old MaineCare Debts by Leveraging State Money to Trigger Matching Federal Payments

Jason Theriault's picture

LePage did not pay down $480 Million

He paid down $69, and the feds kicked in $180.

We owed $400 million.

Don't get me wrong, your point that LePage did pay some holds, your numbers are just off, thats all.

Mark Elliott's picture

BREAKING: Memo Exposes Maine

BREAKING: Memo Exposes Maine Democrats Dishonest Tactics On Hospital Debt - w/ screenshot.

http://megopresearch.tumblr.com/post/44319937513/breaking-memo-exposes-m...

Jason Theriault's picture

Load of crap

That link is the equivelent of www.GOPAreABunchOfPoopieHeads.com

Steve  Dosh's picture

. L O L , J ? Well put •

. L O L , J ? Well put • What the ME - G O P does not realize ( or refuses to accept ) is that your Hon .Gov. LePage is having his cake . .and eating yours' too . /s , Steve :)

Bruce Hixon's picture

Hospital Payments

Paul LePage is quite cozy with the hospitals, He's quite cozy with any corporation, because with him, business always comes first. The people can wait. Republicans won't even acknowledge that the debt payments made under LePages administration were primarily funds left over from the Baldacci administration, during which Gov Baldacci paid $3.7 billion dollars to Maine hospitals since 2002. Gov. Baldacci also approved a Medicaid reimbursement system that paid hospitals on a weekly basis replacing a system state officials blamed for the current debt. These facts are readily available and do not support right wing opinions espoused as such.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Just a thought....

Are all bigwigs in Augusta still getting all those perks, such as ridiculous travel expenses to and from work every day, enough money for meals in one day, that would feed a family of four for a week? Also, since Paul LePage has all but declared he's not performing his job anymore we could grab his salary, not that he ever had that much to show for it anyway. If I have to assume a debt I had nothing to do with creating, it's only fair to really hit those responsible in the first place. with "Boss LePage declaring no new bills will pass his desk, seems a lot of lawmakers won't be working, why pay them? Our elected officials in Augusta got us into this mess with total mismanagement. If we have to pay, I say make them suffer first. If they can take services away from the elderly and poor, How can we justify special privileges for lawmakers. Let them buy their own gas and meals just like all of us have to every day. I don't need to hear that not everyone in office now was responsible for past mistakes. The present staff represents the institution that screwed up. Just as in corporate America. If a company,(State) screwed up ten years ago, and needs to pay the damages now, it doesn't matter who is working for the company (State) now, The present staff must pay. Its only fair that the institution responsible suffers first, not the people who trusted them to do a job they were obviously incapable of performing...........

Steve  Dosh's picture

Frank , i was hired under

Frank , i was hired under Reagan and left under the 2nd Bush ( the dumb one ) . You can respect the office w/o necessarily having to respect the individual • /s, Steve :)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The dumb one may have been

The dumb one may have been dumb, but he knew difference between a corpsman and a corpseman. And, he could say Massachusetts, rather than Mass-two-zits, as your boy likes to put it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Way to go, Gov.

Way to go, Gov.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

He was and still is a lush

Gov. Paul LePage promises that he will veto all bills until the Legislature moves his liquor contract proposal.

Wah, I want my bill to pass so I can have my bottle....
Drink a lot Paul?

Michael Schaedler's picture

Thank you Gov. LePage. Your

Thank you Gov. LePage. Your doing the right thing
At the federal level there has had to be a sequester to bring about any slow down of the binge of the tax and spenders.
I guess you could call the vetoes a state sequester.
Thanks for doing what needs to be done.

Naran Row-Spaulding's picture

Agreed, Michael Schaedler

Gov. LePage has already paid down half the old/new hospital bills left behind by the Baldacci regime. He now has a good plan to pay off the rest, and has already implemented "Pay as You Go" for all MaineCare and Medicaid bills at DHHS.

This article from 2007 -- the Baldacci Regime years -- clearly shows that Maine was NOT paying its hospital and medical provider debts.

http://www.pharmacynews.eu/hospital-industry/hospitals-wait-for-state-to...

Governor LePage is doing the right thing for Maine hospitals, medical providers, and the patients who need help.

Maine Democrats should get on board, instead of dragging their feet and offering no good solutions of their own.

This should not be about sandboxes and politics -- the discussion should be about helping keep Maine hospitals strong.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Day late and dollar short

LePage was at the helm with his flock of right wingers when all these bills to the hospitals were on the record and they needed to be paid. So where was the right when these needed to be addressed. Of course they were more worried about who could sleep or marry with whom. Or wasting money and time on a mural that affected nothing. But mostly focused and concerned on his party's agenda of lunacy or messing with the peoples lives instead of doing the job and now wants to pass the blame off to the preceding Gov.

Seems if LePage got off of his wide carcass and sitting on his hands, his fingers would be less sticky of trying to fling his BS and keeps sticking to him.... it will a great day of days when he is no longer in the Governors chair.

Bob White's picture

What BS are you talking about

What BS are you talking about If I remeber right the govenor talked about this when he was running for office so I guess this happed before he showed up or at least the reason why these bill have been adding up. Do we or do we not owe this money why shouldnt we pay this bill and why cant we get it down instead of worrying about his fingers being sticky maybe you should call your senators and tell them not to worry about St. Pats day and get to work

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Two years

He had two years to address and resolve the issue when he had the purse...enough said....

Noel Foss's picture

The hospital debt is a leftover from Baldacci

It was during his term as Governor that most of it accumulated, because he and the Democrat-led legislature he had at the time kept pushing it off. Because of this huge debt that the state owes to hospitals, nearly every single hospital in the state has had to lay off or cut back the hours for their employees, since they're doling out services they're not getting paid for. So why don't you try telling the people (mostly nurses and support staff) who've been let go that ignoring the debt will get them back to work faster. I know some of them, and I'm pretty sure I know what their answer would be (and you wouldn't be able to print it here).
And if you'd been paying attention, you'd have noticed that the Governor has spent the last two years TRYING to get that debt paid down. It was one of his major campaign focuses. He's just not getting much cooperation from the rest of Augusta. So now after all the other crap that's been passed in the last two years, (two weeks last summer spent debating the state desert, for instance) I think he's finally sick of the legislators ignoring the huge liability that's hanging over their heads in the form of this debt.
As the article states he's not insisting on HOW they legislature decides to pay the bill, just that they actually DO it. I'm pretty sure he'd be ok with them going without pay until they got it figured out.

Jim Cyr's picture

Sen. Troy Jackson,

Some of us disagree with your spend, spend, spend. The Legislature needs to focus on paying overdue bills from previous administrations. Paying our debt down should be your priority. You guys made a promise to pay the hospitals, now pay-up!
We need to bring the State's credit rating back up and that can only be accomplished by pay debts, not adding more!

Bob White's picture

I hear alot of people yepping

I hear alot of people yepping but nobody,the great Senators or the peanut gallery asking why? Probably went right over the less saphisticated peoples head. Why can we pass things like opening early for St. Patricks Day or sealing of the right to find peoples names out on the concealed permits. The truth of the matter is that paying the hospital is the right thing to do and a couple of reasons is. People that do work for the hospitals need to be paid and without money guess what you cant pay them. (that hurts the economy). Yes you left wing nuts think people are in business for the fun of it but thats what drives or economy. What if people were told you have to do work and you will be paid when well who knows when. That would sure make the news now wouldnt it.
I realize criticizing the govenor and call him names is easier then coming up with ideas to solve the problems

Jason Theriault's picture

The problem

I agree, alot of those bills are silly. And I agree we need to pay the hospitals. But there are alot of moving parts to the pay backs plans, like how to pay for it. Is the alcohol contract the way to do it? Do we have the company providing the contract pay it out of their pocket, or does the state take out the bond?

I mean, these are just a few questions that need to be figured out, and I'm sure people are working on it behind the scenes. However, should government just stop until the work is finished? They can work on other things until everything is hammered out.

Jason Theriault's picture

So?

Democrats almost have a 2/3rds majority. get a few moderate Republican's on baord, and make LePage irrelevant to the process.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I wouldn't expect anything less....

The guy's a Tea Party puppet, he could care less what the people want. I really don't care, he has destroyed any chance of getting re elected, we just need to put up with his foolishness for awhile. The only problem I see is, who ever takes over for him is going to have one hell of a mess to clean up.....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You mean sort of like the

You mean sort of like the dung pile he inherited from JEB?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

History lesson

He ran for the office to address past and present issues....seems he failed to address that in the last two years and puts it on the back burner for a, watch me throw stones now....

It is now his dung pile and he stinks from his BS.....two years of doing nothing means he is a failure to doing the job and spent more taxpayers time and money into social issues.

Please tell us what has he really accomplished??

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well, he managed to get you

Well, he managed to get you pretty well riled up.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Knowing him

Knowing about him, his adoptive parents and siblings and his past behaviors, addictions and habits, gives me to that privilege...

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You're obviously not a fan,

You're obviously not a fan, but it all works out in the end. Next election, those who favor him will re-elect him and if those who hate him outnumber the former, he'll be out of a job. It's a great system we have. I continue to marvel at the rhetoric and emotionally fueled clamor the takes place between the elections, though.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You're obviously not a fan,

You're obviously not a fan, but it all works out in the end. Next election, those who favor him will re-elect him and if those who hate him outnumber the former, he'll be out of a job. It's a great system we have. I continue to marvel at the rhetoric and emotionally fueled clamor the takes place between the elections, though.

Bob White's picture

Some could say that is what

Some could say that is what this govenor is doing from the govenor before him. Wow these hospital bills are from the govenor before him. I know I can see where I sit that the hospital is a engine to the economy

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Voting has Consequences

Here is a prime example why people need to show up to the polls and vote out this very kind of poor excuse of a candidate who should have a psychological evaluation before they are allowed to run.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Stupid now and stupid then

LePage was a moron growing up and still shows his ignorance...he should of stayed on his meds...his living above the Jolly at the Holly on Main St affected what brain he had...he is truly a poor excuse for a governor with a 41% support from the right....

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Does own stock?

Intemperate, irresponsible, ignorant - but a good representative of the business community.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Should be "Does he own Stock"

Is LePage on strike? If he is, Maine is a state in which employees can be fired without cause. Where is Trump when you need him.

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