I read with interest the Nov. 24 column by Rep. Jeff Timberlake outlining his opposition to the proposed expansion of Medicaid for the state of Maine.
The representative correctly points out that the expansion would provide medical coverage for 70,000 Mainers (many of whom are the working poor) and this would be paid 100 percent by federal tax dollars for the first three years and then the state of Maine is to pay
We are told this is a bad deal for us, in part, because the newly covered population would have no co- pays and we could not exit the system if we felt it was not working.
It should be pointed out that the last proposal put forth in the last Legislature to reform MaineCare included, for the first time ever, co- pays which would have encouraged responsible use and also had the ability to exit the program in three years if the Legislature decided the program was not working or that funds would not be available.
Despite this, many Republicans were not convinced and the Legislature could not muster enough votes to override Gov. LePage’s veto.
I offer the following points to consider.
We will be paying taxes into the Medicaid system and refusing the benefits. How is that a good deal? The uncovered population will still continue to receive care at the hospitals where it is the most expensive, the hospitals will not be reimbursed for this and the costs will be passed on to private insurance holders.
The increase in state expense to administrate this expansion will be more than offset by the creation of health care jobs and reducing the burden of health care costs to people and businesses. The Maine Center for Economic Policy estimates that this expansion will stimulate $350 million of economic activity and create 3,100 jobs for Mainers.
Rep. Timberlake states that we cannot trust the federal government to pay up despite the fact that in the entire 45-plus history of Medicaid the government has never defaulted.
Some in the state government seem more interested in seeing President Obama fail than to help provide medical coverage for Mainers and payments to our physicians and hospitals.
We would do better if they would accept that the Affordable Care Act is the law and work to improve it where it needs it.
Paul Cain, MD, Oxford