F. Cleaveland: Pay off debt to hospitals

The continuing debt owed to Maine hospitals is an inexcusable shame. If I understand correctly, it is also costing federal funds. It should have the highest priority.

If the governor's proposal is not the right solution, then it is up to the Legislature to put forward a better one — one with definite plan for a timely satisfaction of the debt.

If that means moving funds from other areas or creating a targeted tax until the debt is paid, so be it.

There has been plenty of time to come up with a plan, so it really needs to happen soon, and before other, less pressing, business.

Folger Cleaveland, Farmington

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MARK GRAVEL's picture

I think the previous plan was

I think the previous plan was the Legislature’s plan – force hospitals to provide service for which the state does not pay – what a brilliant budget plan! Something for nothing.

This is yet another example of how government creates a problem that government has to solve. Too bad the state could not patent that concept as the perpetual machine.

Better living thought smaller government.

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

All bills need to be paid

The Hospitals bill should be paid but they need to get in line with the rest of the bills owed by Maine and take their turn. The shame here is
the Governor had no problem defaulting on the Maine State bill owed to the Maine State Employees Retirement System (for 35 years), but will fight to the end to pay the bill owed to the hospital corporation (since 2009. The shame is Maine State bills owed are not treated fair and equally. Yes , Pay the bills BUT pay all the bills!!!

 's picture

For the sake of discussion ...

... let's assume that Baldacci paid the retirement system bills conscientiously during those loooong tedious eight years. He also stiffed the hospitals and completely ignored the state's infrastructure. LePage is at least trying to fulfill his obligations on the latter two. That makes the score: LePage - 2, Baldacci - 1. And you can make the one a zero when you understand the assumption is built on gimmicks and tricks. What did John do with all that savings? Why he wildly expanded the MaineCare rolls, increasing the bills that must be paid.

So today, while a ME retiree may not get the COLA he's entitled to, at least he can ride to a functioning emergency room without causing more injury to himself on cruddy roads.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

All public retirement plans

All public retirement plans should be defined contribution plans (i.e. 401K’s) those in private industry have, if you have them.

ERNEST LABBE's picture


Crystal you are obviously a member of the MSERS and I agree that it was wrong for the previous 35 years of democrats not properly funding the pension. Why is no one up in arms at the democrats that created the problem? However that bill is not going to break the pension if not paid immediatly.

Should the hospital coperation supplement the state budget? Don't their bills need to be paid to their creditors? The hospitals are borrowing to pay their employees and bills. Getting along doesn't mean that one side cowtows to the other constantly.

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

Dem's did pay

Starting in 1994 the Democrats were on a payment plan to fully fund MePERS-- and they made all the payments up to 2008 when the great Bush recession happened -- blowing a big hole in everything !! a new payment plan needed to be made, so Maine could "pay its bills" several plans were offered -- (like refinancing a mortage )
BUT NO was LePages answer-- NO new plan-- No continuting the payments-- just a big old default on the bill owed
Not one word about the state paying its bills or character . Don't you think the State should have paid it bills to MePERS ?
Don't you think taxing retired people in MePERS was wrong? You see when Maine demanded money from MePERS it was demanding the money from the Maine people required to be in MePERS and that is a TAX, so every year every retired MePERS person loses money because Maine took it from them. Maine could have paid its bill but chose to default --
How come paying Hospital corporation is so much more important than paying the bill owed to maine people?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“Don't you think taxing

“Don't you think taxing retired people in MePERS was wrong?”

Hell no!

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

We pay taxes

Retired people in MePers pay income taxes -- the tax I refer to is the State taxing the retired by demanding they pay for the States debt more than others. So we pay our income taxes then we pay more to decrease the debt. NO other Mainers were asked to do this .

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Apparently, I missed your

Apparently, I missed your implied meaning of "tax".

Perhaps stating that the state is underfunding future pension liabilities is clearer to the reader. That said, this would not be a “tax” on current pensioners. It would only hurt future pensioners if and only if the state fails to catch-up on under payments or fails to meet obligations from future tax revenues – a lot of if’s.

In above context, it is clear to see Gov. LaPage is prioritizing a present problem for a maybe future problem. That IMHO is the correct prioritization.

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

Current pensioners are "taxed"

Current pensioners are losing money every year to pay Maines debt , so will future pensioners. The State had a bill to MePERS they decided it would not pay it all . They would reduce the amounts owed to current and future pensioners to make up the money they were not going to pay on the bill owed. Say MePERS owed me $25,000 in 2011 but they decided to only pay me $24,300. Keeping the remaining $700 to reduce Maines Debt -- I was taxed $700 because Maine demanded the money from me. This is going on right now to pensioners . The UAL is a bill owed by the state of Maine -- pensioners paid every penny they owed to MePERS.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Let’s all remember that a cut

Let’s all remember that a cut in an increase is not really cut at all.

CRYSTAL WARD's picture


It is very hard to have a conversation this way. Both current and future pensioner were cut with the new benefit set plan passed last session.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I’m just trying to understand

I’m just trying to understand how you conclude that current pensioners get a cut.

Let me be direct with this sensitive topic. Do you call a reduction in cost of living increase a cut?

MARK GRAVEL's picture


Even the class action law suit filed by the Maine Association of Retirees addresses reduction in COLA, not reduction in current payments.


MARK GRAVEL's picture

I’m trying to understand your

I’m trying to understand your argument. That said, I’m not aware that the state is reducing payments to current retirees. I’m only aware of a freeze and cap on cost of living increases. While inflation does eat into your spending power when cost of living increases are frozen, I don’t get where your benefits your current benefit will be decreased, as provided in your example.

Please provide your source. Help me and other readers understand the bases behind your example.

 's picture

That's what the Legislature...

...is trying to do, Mr Cleaveland. But the governor has taken his ball and has gone home. Nobody else in Augusta can play. No fixing roads, no medical care, no new jobs, no improving the economy...how about we start paying the hospital bill with the governor's, and his daughter's, salary?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“no new jobs, no improving

“no new jobs, no improving the economy”

Many people like you look to the government to create jobs and control the economy yet the give not examples how a government can do that.

This is your stage, take a shot at it telling the readers how your state government can create jobs and control the economy.

 's picture

You have no idea...

...who I am or what I actually believe in. Anyone, even you, can perform the job of governor in this state better than the child we have in the chair now. Just keep name calling. Just keep telling me what I do and what I don't do. You need to do that, I know. But I still know childish tantrums when I see them and I see them quite often coming out of the Blaine House these days.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

As I read your response, I

As I read your response, I cannot help but draw a mental picture of a childish rant making claims about someone making childish rants. Reminds me of those infinity mirrors that were popular in the late 70’s.

My question provided you with an opportunity to demonstrate how you would (or could) perform better than the current governor, yet you missed the opportunity to shine for the readers.

IMHO, your behavior demonstrates you cannot do better than the current leadership or perhaps even a child given your yardstick above.

I’ll be happy to continue an adult discussion of my question if you so choose. That said, past history says not to hold my breath.

 's picture

I'm not trying...

...to shine for the readers - that's your thing. You're accusing me of childish things. You certainly have a great mentor in that regard. You want to know what I'd do better - here's a short list:

I would not childishly tell anyone to kiss my ass.

I would not childishly tell anyone to go to hell.

I would not call well-meaning people idiots and other childish names.

I would not childishly tell women with a legitimate concern that the only result of their concern would be to grow little mustaches. This is especially degrading to the women of his, and my, Franco-American heritage.

I would not childishly usurp the power of the Legislature by telling them to go home because “I ain't doin' nothin'.”

I would not childishly usurp the power of the people, you and I, who voted on legislation that improves the lives of the people of this state and then childishly withhold those improvements.

That's a start. Now if you want, I will give you a list, a long list, of people on both sides of the aisle who would make a better governor than this man. The list includes almost every member of the House and Senate.

Of course, you will belittle everything I've said here because everything you say is right and no one else is allowed an opinion that disagrees with yours. Go ahead. It's expected.

But I'll tell you this – you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar. You don't believe that because you're spilling as much vinegar as your beloved God Almighty Childish Governor.

 's picture


OK. I'd enjoy a battle of wits but I never attack an unarmed man.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Wouldn’t it take less text

Wouldn’t it take less text just to answer my question? Like I said, past history predicted this response.

At this point, I’ll conclude this discussion with no expectation of a response to my question. Let me know when you find some of that wit you are talking about.

 's picture

You said...

"My question provided you with an opportunity to demonstrate how you would (or could) perform better than the current governor, yet you missed the opportunity to shine for the readers."

You chose not to read my reply. Not my problem.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Woody, Let me recap my


Let me recap my original question:
“no new jobs, no improving the economy”
Many people like you look to the government to create jobs and control the economy yet they give no examples how a government can do that.

..take a shot at telling the readers how your state government can create jobs and control the economy.
Sorry, but I saw nothing in your response that directly addressed the question. It appears you instead used the time to indirectly carp about your perception of Gov. LaPage’s behavior; that will not create any jobs; perhaps the answer is ostensible, the government cannot create private sector jobs- end of story.

 's picture

I have to give you credit.

You have an excuse to ignore everything.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Wood---y, perhaps we should

Wood---y, perhaps we should simply call it staying on topic.

Look at all the text you generated, yet you still cannot address my basic question.

This is my last comment on this non-discussion.

 's picture




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