Maine Democrats and LePage renew debate over Medicaid expansion

AUGUSTA — Leaders in the Legislature's Democratic majority renewed calls Tuesday to expand the MaineCare system to cover an additional 70,000 people, including childless adults and veterans who have non-service-related medical issues not covered by the Veterans Affairs Administration.

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Mark Eves, D-South Berwick, speaks to reporters at the State House in Augusta on Tuesday about a proposal to expand the state's Medicaid system.

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, speaks with reporters Tuesday at the State House in Augusta about a plan by Democrats to expand MaineCare. Republicans oppose the expansion, saying the state can't afford it despite funding from the federal government under the Affordable Care Act.

Scott Thistle/Sun Journal

Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, speaks with reporters about expanding Maine's Medicaid program, MaineCare, during a press conference at the State House in Augusta on Tuesday. Haskell said it was not up to Gov. Paul LePage to "pick and choose" who will or will not receive health care coverage in Maine.

House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, disputed Republican claims that accepting federal funds under the Affordable Care Act to expand MaineCare would end up costing the state money. 

"(Gov. Paul LePage's) accusations that it is going to cost more than it saves are wrong," Eves said.

Republicans have said the expansion would cost the state $10 million a year in administrative expenses, and once the federal funding is reduced to 90 percent of the state's total cost, the annual expense to taxpayers would be $75 million.

Eves said the fiscal note provided to the Legislature by the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review shows the savings are greater than the costs because the federal reimbursement rates are higher under an expanded program.

"The state of Maine is one of a few states in the nation that is actually going to see savings if they make this decision," Eves said. "It is a missed opportunity that's going to hurt our economy. It's going to hurt families that can't access doctors when they are sick."

Eves predicted his caucus would have the support it needs to pass an expansion of the program in 2014. Democrats fell two votes shy in 2013.

But House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, said Eves' assessment may be wishful thinking.  

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Fredette said.

He said the Legislature had yet to have a full debate in a "meaningful way" on the issue.

LEWISTON — Gov. Paul LePage will visit Central Maine Medical Center on Wednesday to deliver the news that the state is making good on a $183 million debt it has owed the state's 39 hospitals beginning in 2009.

The state payment for past services provided under MaineCare, the state's Medicaid system, will trigger a federal matching amount, bringing the total payment to hospitals to more than $490 million.

LePage quipped that he would deliver the news "Publisher's-Clearinghouse"-style with a giant check, but he later said he was simply glad the state was finally making good on its debt.

Paying the hospital debt has been a focal point of LePage's administration and an issue he campaigned on in 2010, promising he would get the hospitals paid, if elected.

"It's not a windfall; it's paying our bills to them, but it's putting money into the state's economy," LePage told the Sun Journal in an interview.

LePage will visit CMMC at 2 p.m. after an 11:15 a.m. stop at Inland Hospital in Waterville.

Sun Journal file photo

Gov. Paul LePage addresses members of the media and the public in March about his plan to use revenue from the state's liquor business to pay $183 million the state owes to 39 hospitals. He was speaking at Roopers Beverage and Redemption on Main Street in Auburn.

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FRANK EARLEY's picture

Probably, what I feel, wishful thinking........

These are not terms used by an individual who is confident of what they are talking about, yet this is all we are hearing from the Right. All there arguments sound scripted, no matter where you hear an interview, the wording is without exception, identical. My other favorite term used throughout all this, is the claims of not having access to constructive dialogue regarding the A.C.A.. That one argument alone is proof positive the Republicans have rehearsed this argument over and over again. You can not refuse to discuss a problem, then complain about the lack of opportunity to discuss the problem.
Paul LePage, to his credit, is merely sticking to his guns, following the guidelines of a radical splinter group of the Republican Party, who he is indebted to for being Governor. With out the Tea Party endorsement, LePage would still be hawking storm damaged goods at Mardens. Even though it does nothing for the people of Maine, he is powerless with out their help.
Today he's visiting hospitals to celebrate the repaying of the debt owed to them. I wonder if he is also apologizing up front, for the huge debt they will soon incur as a result of no healthcare for the needy. Hence, the Emergency Room Plan.
Every action, has an equal and opposite reaction. LePage doesn't quite get that. He only see's things from one dimension. If he took the time to see all the possible ramifications, he would soon realize the error of his decisions. Unfortunatle until he starts to make his own decisions, without the assistance, or threats of the Tea Party, we should expect nothing but the same old thing. We can only count the days.....................

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Have you ever considered that

Have you ever considered that LePage believes in that "message"? I guess not because you need to keep hope.

Job well done!

Job well done!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Dennis, since you said some time ago you still work and your post timestamps are at 1:32 PM...You must be doing this all on your employer's time? It appears that on most of all your postings it is during business hours. What is up with that? Ripping off your employer are you?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Looks like a little Jerry

Looks like a little Jerry envy is shining through - true colors.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Retired at

55, no envy there sheep dip...

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Oh, that is right, you were a

Oh, that is right, you were a union leech.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


That must mean Unions are good to have a great pension and live with dignity and not off the state and the US govt........seems you are dumber than you look....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


Your momma serviced those leeches.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Wow, that is innovative -

Wow, that is innovative - NOT.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

You mess

with the bull, you get the time watch your insults....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You are partly right - all

You are partly right - all BULL S.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

You are confused again:

you must have been looking in the mirror when you said that to like dishing it out but can't take it, really weak, just like the rest of the Gravel's....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Hmm, Delusional too!

Hmm, Delusional too!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

You are that, correct!

At least you are not obnoxious like so many other people - you are obnoxious in a different and worse way!

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I take that as a complement.

I take that as a complement. On that note, it is time to end this discussion and take my talents elsewhere.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

What talents?

Perhaps your whole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I agree. I warn people about

I agree.

I warn people about the excesses of government spending, downside of large government, and damage that unions have on an economy.

 's picture

If it wasn't for UNIONS, you

If it wasn't for UNIONS, you would be working 18 hour days.Week ends,Holidays.No over time,no paid vacations,no yime with family or friends.Your UNION workers got you what you have today.

Public Unions have

Public Unions have contributed bankruptsy of America. We can't afford them anymore.

 's picture

So you don't mind 18 hr work

So you don't mind 18 hr work days with no paid time off,and no decent wages?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Your scenario is predicated

Your scenario is predicated on an assumption not fact. There are few unions left in the private sector, yet we don’t have anywhere near the conditions you are speculating.

The BS meter is registering waste deep on this one.

Unions are not needed

Unions are not needed anymore, we have laws that protect us. They are only usefull to support Democrat politicians.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

What laws

You are one dumb moron as if you keep up that the Repubs are wanting to shut down the labor department and the repubs are wanting to change laws like overtime and no OSHA.

You should shut up now Dennis your ignorance is drooling out your mouth.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Shut it all down, and let's

Shut it all down, and let's see what happens.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You know that you have won

You know that you have won the agrument when Jerry launches into personal attacks; he is out of things to say, so he resorts to name calling.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

He'd rather

see workers boxed into locked rooms, no breaks, low wages and all living in freight carriers, like in India and Burma ETC. That is his kinds vision of America.

He doesn't care about the middle class, just wants corporate and the poor to be the only two classes. They say we no longer need unions and the corporate industry wants to bring back the long hours, no overtime, no healthcare or pensions, that is why the 1% just gets richer every year...

Obama is the one screwing the

Obama is the one screwing the working class. He's had 5 years, what has he done to provide good non-government jobs?
His policies are good for keeping the welfare checks flowing, turning full time jobs into part time jobs.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

FYI; Today Wall Street

U.S. stocks rallied to new highs as the Federal Reserve surprised markets by announcing that its stimulus measures would stay in place. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a new record, up 147.21 points at 15676.94. The S&P 500 index also notched a new record, closing up 20.76 points at 1725.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 37.94 points to 3783.64.

Treasury prices also rose, with the benchmark 10-year yield settling at 2.706%, its lowest since Aug. 12. Prices of mortgage-backed securities leapt even more. Gold and oil futures pushed higher.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The stock market does not

The stock market does not always reflect the health of the economy.

Basically this data shows the stock market is happy that Obama will continue to print money and inject it into the economy.

As some point this has to stop, so the overly inflated stock market values will correct.

Obama is hurting the economy since all the printing, while excites the stock market, it hides other issues with the economy, such as a crappy jobs market. Moreover, this money needs to be paid back by the taxpayer. You should be viewing Obama’s behavior as basically printing money and handing it over to business.

Your example is basically pointing out what Obama is doing to further hurt the economy - brilliant example.

 's picture

The lack of good jobs began

The lack of good jobs began with Bush. Obama has done his best,but when he took office,Republicans controlled the house,and not only vowed to disapprove of every bill he proposed,but did so. Thank Bush the mess we are in.We are paying billions for a war against Iraq,and they were of no threat to the USA but he ignored Bib Laden.If the billions we have spent on that war were used in this COUNTRY,alot of good would be done. Obama has to fund welfare and helping programs,because Bush left so many Americans without jobs,and the ability to earn a decent wage.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Give the readers two things

Give the readers two things Obama has done to inspire jobs with a decent wage? Just two.

When you come up empty, perhaps you'll know why Obama is expanding welfare at an unprecedented rate. That is all he is capable of doing. Hell, Obama is even givig out bonuses to individual who grow the welfare rolls faster than others.

Obama blaming Bush before he

Obama blaming Bush before he got elected worked. Even a year or two after, blaming Bush was effective. Its been 5 years since Bush was in charge. Blaming Bush doesn't work anymore, its Obamas record now and he's failed just admit it! While Obamas been trashing Bush for the last 5 years, Bush has not said a word. I'd say GW Bush is the guy with class, Obama just talks trash, and
Americas sick of it.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Market and Dow

is booming, and the small paying jobs are employers and the corporate office, he doesn't direct what and how they pay or hiring...get real Dennis.

The government does not control jobs, a business owner would know that....

Face the truth Jerry, Obama

Face the truth Jerry, Obama is a big failure and disapointment for so many that believed in him.He will go down as one of the worst Presidents, even worst than Carter.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Bush will be the worst....

The economy has come out of a recession...simple arithmetic, you failed in that like High School....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Bush will be the worst -

Bush will be the worst - what. Finish your sentence.

While the economy is out of the recession as measured by the textbook definition, the economy is not robust enough to keep pace with new workers entering the workforce. Moreover, there more part-time jobs created than full-time jobs.

Hypothetically, let's say the start of this economy was all Bush's fault. Now we have to say that Obama has no F'N clue how to fix it. Continuing to print money to mask the real economy is like continuing to give cocaine to an addict to prevent withdraws.

worst recovery from a

worst recovery from a recession ever!

Well Jerry its like this, I

Well Jerry its like this, I own my own business.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Perfect time

For a free advertisement shoutout, to let us all know what business or service you provide, here is your chance!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture


you do!

Gerry Thompson's picture


work all different work schedules and get their breaks and lunches at different times of the day. Anyone who has ever been employed or looks for employment knows this

Job well one Governor!

Job well one Governor!

Claudette Therriault's picture

Isn't that like Lepage?

Isn't that like Lepage? Present this check over to CMMC CEO on one hand, and on the other hand, he supports the Anthem Health Care plan that will exclude CMMC. What a hypocrite?

Joe Morin's picture


Those are two separate issues. Paying the hospitals money owed to them is appropriate. If you have other issues that is fine but they are not conjoined.


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