LePage wastes no time vetoing bill linking hospital debt, Medicaid

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

Gov. Paul LePage explains why he is vetoing a bill that allows for the expansion of Medicaid in Maine and repays hospital debt.

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage handed down an instant veto Thursday, minutes after the Senate gave final passage to a bill that links repayment of Maine’s hospital debt to an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program.

LePage, during an impromptu appearance in the State House Hall of Flags, also laid out the text for a new bill he plans to submit to the Legislature that authorizes the state to repay its share of the $484 million debt to 39 hospitals. Republican legislators signed on as co-sponsors after LePage finished reading his veto letter.

“Democrat leadership has spent the past week forcing this bill through the legislative process, over the objections of both Republicans and Democrats alike,” the veto letter reads. “This unadulterated partisanship tied two different issues together in a quest to force welfare expansion upon the Maine people. I have said all along this bill would receive a veto when it reached my desk, so this letter should be no surprise.”

LePage also wrote in his letter that he has directed State Treasurer Neria Douglass to ready $105 million in voter-approved bonds to be released if lawmakers pass the hospital debt repayment plan. LePage has said since January he’ll release those bonds once the hospital debt is resolved.

“The sad part of this veto is the simple fact that all of us have agreed paying our bills is the fiscally responsible thing to do,” LePage’s veto letter reads. “Additionally, the bipartisan work of the committees has recognized my original plan is the best way to do it.”

LePage proposes to issue a revenue bond to repay the hospital debt. The bond would be backed by future revenues from a renegotiated state wholesale liquor contract.

During Senate debate Thursday morning, Democrats repeated that the state has a moral imperative to expand health insurance coverage to tens of thousands of low-income Maine residents. Republicans repeated that lawmakers shouldn’t be linking Medicaid expansion and repayment for the state’s hospitals.

“The path to paying the hospitals is before us,” said Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono. “If we cannot proceed down it together, we will have to seek another path, but I would argue the best choice is for us to take it today.”

Senate debate was also colored by personal stories senators told about their constituents and about themselves.

Sen. Colleen Lachowicz, D-Waterville, read a list of names of people who lack health insurance she has met during the past year.

“I’ve got pages of this,” Lachowicz said. “I could go on.”

Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting, said he won’t consider expanding Medicaid to about 50,000 adults without children until the state is able to provide Medicaid to nearly 300 people with intellectual disabilities who have been on a waiting list for services.

“I know about this. I have one of them in my home,” Burns said. “Until we address that issue, I’ll continue to stand in the way of expansion for relatively able-bodied people.”

An increasingly tense State House atmosphere also spilled over into Senate debate Thursday, which took place as LePage accused Democratic legislative leaders of censoring him by ordering him to remove a television posted outside his office. The specter of LePage’s veto hung over the debate.

Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said lawmakers should move ahead with expanding Medicaid although LePage’s administration remains in discussions about expansion possibilities with federal officials. Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew in March asked federal officials to fully fund a Medicaid expansion in Maine for 10 years when the federal health care reform law provides for three years worth of full funding for new Medicaid recipients.

“The idea that slowing this down, that our chief executive is going to negotiate a better deal, that’s incredible to me,” Jackson, the assistant Senate Democratic leader, said. “If I was looking for someone to sell me a TV, maybe I would go to the chief executive.”

Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon, said the state should be wary of expanding Medicaid. The program’s costs could exceed expectations, he said.

“This is an expansion to 70,000 Mainers. It’s huge,” he said. “We cannot go into it lightly. This is not going to be free. This will cost us money.”

In Maine, about 50,000 adults without children would gain Medicaid coverage if the state opts to expand, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review. If the state chooses not to expand, about 25,000 childless adults and parents would lose their Medicaid coverage on Jan. 1, 2014.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay 100 percent of costs for new Medicaid recipients for three years starting Jan. 1, 2014. That 100 percent rate would gradually fall to 90 percent by 2020 and the state would have to make up the remaining share.

Democrats were expected to describe their next procedural steps Thursday afternoon after the bill’s passage in the House and Senate. Since the bills passed in largely party-line votes, Democrats don’t currently have enough votes to override a LePage veto.

Meanwhile, House Republican Leader Kenneth Fredette of Newport plans to push his case this afternoon to introduce a separate bill that attempts to do what Republicans in the House and Senate failed to accomplish Tuesday: set up a study commission to examine the state’s options for expanding Medicaid.

Fredette will attempt to convince legislative leadership to accept his after-deadline bill during a Legislative Council meeting Thursday afternoon. The 10-member Legislative Council has six Democrats and four Republicans.

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Here is a question for all

Here is a question for all the LePage supporters...If he is so right about mainecare expansion why is it that other republicans are not touting the same message....all they are saying is that they didn't have enough time to get all the facts they wanted? Also, LePage said for the legislature to send him a balanced budget that didn't raise taxes and yet his department heads are calling for an increase in many taxes...sales, cigarette, fast food, hospitality, internet sales....etc.....I see something wrong with that even if the LePage yes men can't

James Pare's picture

politics as usual

This probably would've passed had the Dems not threw in earmarks into the equation.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

What earmarks????? If you are

What earmarks????? If you are talking about the mainecare expansion that isn't an earmark. It would be fully funded for 3 years and then drop to 90% funded by 2020. That isn't an earmark.

James Pare's picture

Earmarks

Why are they adding the expansion of Maine Care to the paying off the hospital bills???? Why not just pay the bill?? Expand Maine Care later on.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Because our illustrious

Because our illustrious temper tantrum throwing governor would not sign a bill for mainecare expansion. And why not include the expansion if it insures thousands of hard WORKING Mainers AND pay the hospitals at the same time...seems to me it is a wise use of time and accomplishes much. But then again the Lepage "yes" men don't want that and neither does the governor. He just wants things his way benefiting his rich friends and forget about the "little" people.

James Pare's picture

my view...

Well this is like telling your mortgage company you'll pay your bill (which is extremely late) if the household agrees put money into the house to ad a business onto the property.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

How much more evidence do you need???????

The Governor in his imminent wisdom, has once again dashed the hopes of thousands of constituents chances of getting health insurance. This mans lack of compassion is matched only with his lack of intelligence. Anyone out there familiar with the word "Delusional"? That is his ability to intentionally deprive thousands of people something they desperately need, being paid for by our own tax dollars. Tax dollars which will go to fund this program whether the Governor takes it or not. Then he turns around and proclaims that his plan, which benefits not one single constituent, is better. The man is delusional, now he wants to hide in the Blaine House because his feelings are hurt. No TV for him, so he stomps his feet.
This is the man in charge of the future of every single one of us, kind of scary if you think about it. We need to be able to RECALL this guy. I am embarrassed to call him Governor, he's gone off the deep end.....

Jason Theriault's picture

You know

Even LePage's favorite place in the world, Florida, is taking the money

Bob Woodbury's picture

Re-do the headline.

LePage IS wasting time on the hospital bill. Why not. Doesn't affect him or his family.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

We are wasting.........

We are wasting time with LePage:( :( :( :( :(

DONALD FERLAND's picture

It's time to stall the

It's time to stall the repayment plan to hospitals until LePage releases bond already approved by voters. This is not suppose to be a state of I will do this if you do that. The voters spoke on the bonds and LePage is holding them hostage. Mr. LePage grow up!!!

Bob Wright's picture

Yes Jerry, if you are on the

Yes Jerry, if you are on the government dole and other people are paying your way, your options should be limited. Just maybe, that would be an incentive to take personal responsibility. I know that idea is hard for you to grasp.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

You lay it out like a cowpie

You say limited but what you mean is they are dictated and denied how to live according to some set standards. That could never hold in court for personal freedoms being violated.

UNLESS;

The only way that is ever accomplished is when you are in a cell in a controlled environment.

One mans ceiling is another mans floor and not all people are equal in their trials and tribulations in life and you want them all into the same boat and shackled together in a controlled environment.

You would have made a great slave owner, you should check your roots.

Bob Wright's picture

That's true Al, but what

That's true Al, but what about small claims court? If the hospital started taking deadbeats to court maybe that would be a game changer. Personal responsibility goes a long way. people need to start taking better care of themselves healthwise if they expect others to pay the bills. If you are on government bennies, you should not be allowed to smoke or drink. Mandatory drug testing.

AL PELLETIER's picture

CMMC and small claims court

Bob, every other month, at the Oxford County Court House in So.Paris, CMMC's collection agency, the Susan Szwed Agency, hauls in 20 to 30 people for non-payment of medical treatment. Open your f---- eyes! Our court system is overloaded with good people who just can't pay for their medical treatment. Are you in some kind of La La Land?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Freedom means nothing to you, does it...

you should not be allowed to smoke or drink....piss in a cup ????

Lets include next that can't have children, or have sex because of stds????

They are not allowed to have sugary drinks, or eat at McDonalds because of fatty foods.

They can only buy the foods designated and nothing else.

You have a curfew so that we do not have them in bad places so they can stay safe, to prevent any further hospital care....

Amazing....Dictatorship is your friend....

Bob Wright's picture

Jerry, give me just one case

Jerry, give me just one case where someone in Maine has been denied healthcare. (medical care)

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Denied healthcare

I know plenty of people who are denied healthcare People who need hip and knee replacements who cannot get them, people whose mental health services have been cancelled, children with ear infections and broken glasses who have to wait for emergency room care, people who walk around with pneumonia for weeks and weeks before they can access care, people who cannot afford cancer drugs or whose diabetes goes untreated until they land in a coma or need an amputation. I don't know where you live but you are not very observant. I guess out of sight out of mind. Not all of these people fall under the category involved in the debate over Mainecare expansion but the state of health care in this state is abysmal. Open your eyes and you will see

Bob Woodbury's picture

Name one.

Name one.

Bob Wright's picture

Jerry, nobody in this country

Jerry, nobody in this country is denied healthcare! (medical care)

What expansion is all about, is who is going to pay for said medical care!

AL PELLETIER's picture

Question, Bob

True, if you show up at any emergency room you will not be denied medical care, (you and I pay for that in the long run). What happens if you ask Blue Cross to give you health insurance coverage at 50% off the going rate because that's all you can afford? BACK TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM.

Bob Wright's picture

I am wondering, for the

I am wondering, for the people who disagree with my last post, what part do you disagree with?

Jerry, you have stated that you own apartments? Do you make any money on them or do you only charge just enough to cover your expenses? With your holier than thou stance, I hope you are not making profit from the less fortunate. ;-)

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Let me put it to you this way

For 26 years, I according to the standards for Androscoggin County, set by the # of bedrooms and sq footage, I charge far less than what I really could.
My rents are immaculate with beautiful interiors and modern appliances. My sister and brother are part of that circle and they are my eyes and ears. My tenants are fair market share but under what I could actually charge. In a nutshell I have a positive cash flow to make ends meet my obligations. Since I have renovated my properties to meet all code and maintenance needed. I keep my tenants, happy and content with what is provided, whereas in return they are and have been excellent tenants.

Having said that, I have had in long past some that have damaged, stolen shades, etc. and were not reliable and I have taken it hard in the shorts for being too kind, but that is part of being a good landlord and not being a Slumlord. The overhead of paying trash, water, sewer and heat is a huge nut and I still charge fairly for those shared entitlements. There is all new appliances included other than dishwashing machines, with anything replaced or repaired immediately.

Keep in mind those assets are used for investments and write offs allowed for realty owners. I make out OK, but not swimming in money off of them or feeling superior, if that is what you are implying of my holier than thou stance.....

Bob Wright's picture

Jerry states: "19 Repub Govs

Jerry states: "19 Repub Govs denying health care for those can not have it...true Christians. ha!"

That is a lie Jerry! You are being deceitful! Nobody in this country is being denied health care. What this is all about is who is going to pay for the health care. I can barely pay for my health care and you want me to pick up the tab for someone else?

I know it may be a new concept to you, but a little personal responsibility go a long way!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Wrong all around

Read what the Expansion extends for those that do not have coverage...please read and come back when you have it all absorbed.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

LePage will eat crow, with the egg on his face

It is down to 19 out of 50 states of those that have NOT done so.

Iowa Rep Gov just came on board and Bransted is a hard nose, but a whole lot more intelligent than LePage could ever be.
Hard nose rubber face Jan Brewer, AZ Gov, also swore up and down not too and has done so...

This map shows all but the change up to Iowa...

All the other 19 hard knuckle draggers are Repub/tbagger Govs...
19 Repub Govs denying health care for those can not have it...true Christians. ha!

http://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2012/11/09/MedicaidMap

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Severing or killing

The governor says he wants to sever the bills but that is not what he has in mind. He has requested that the federal goverment grant Maine a promise that they will pay for the Medicaid expansion for a full ten years. He may as well have asked for 100 years. He is fairly sure the feds will not grant Maine something no other state has gotten or even asked for. In the far off chance that they did grant his request he can fall back on his contention that the feds will not keep their promise. This is not severing the bills it is grabbing money for the hospitals and leaving Mainers without access to health care. Democrats should repay his consideration by voting down his request to sever and to defeat payment for the hospitals.

Jason Theriault's picture

This is funny

The Democrats should say No.

Release the Bonds first. The people of Maine approved them, and you don't get to subvert them to get your way.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Dead on Jason!

This by any other name is still political blackmail and the people of Maine should not tolerate it.

Jason Theriault's picture

Actually

They should pass a budget first. That way, LePage line item vetos anything, they can sit on hospital repayment.

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...