Speaker of the Maine House Mark Eves recently attacked his Republican colleagues ("LePage says he won't issue supplemental budget," Sept. 22) for raising concerns about his proposal to implement the largest-ever expansion of MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid program.
Republicans have been saying that Maine should take care of the 3,100 elderly and disabled Mainers who sit languishing on Medicaid waitlists before expanding Medicaid to 70,000 able-bodied young adults.
He said that our concerns are an “excuse” to oppose welfare expansion that only came when it was “convenient.”
Well I have news for Speaker Eves. I brought this issue up last year, when we were facing budget cuts, and it wasn’t convenient at all. I said then, I say now, “It is shameful.”
Democrats had eight years of legislative majorities and their own governor in office from 2003 to 2011. They must not have found it “convenient” to get Maine’s disabled and neediest individuals off waitlists during that decade, as they were too busy repeatedly and recklessly expanding medical welfare to tens of thousands of young, able-bodied adults, which continues to cannibalize our budget, runs up our debt, and crowds out basics such as road and bridge repairs.
Furthermore, it’s patronizing for him to label this issue as an “excuse.”
If ensuring that welfare serves the neediest first is an “excuse,” then perhaps he thinks my “real” reason for opposing welfare expansion is the fact that it will cost the state $75 million per year. Or perhaps it’s because Medicaid has a history of costing far more than expected while failing to deliver on promises such as reduced emergency room usage. Or maybe it’s because we just last week paid off the last of the state’s $738 million hospital debt that was created by past expansions.
While the state of Maine staggers under the already crushing weight of this program, it is unconscionable that he is pushing further expansion.
All of these are very good “excuses” not to increase Maine’s welfare spending. Perhaps we would find some common ground if the speaker stopped lobbing public insults at his colleagues across the aisle.
Rep. Heather Sirocki, Scarborough