Two bills before the Maine Legislature right now offer very different visions for Medicaid and the welfare system in general.
One, LD 1487, would expand free Medicaid under ObamaCare to more than 70,000 able-bodied adults. They are all of working age (19-64), 60 percent are under 45, 60 percent are men, 75 percent are single, and 42 percent of them smoke.
Supporters of Medicaid expansion want the state to pay $800 million for this proposal, even though the vast majority of these able-bodied folks can get low-deductible insurance on the exchange at no cost to the state if they are willing to chip in just $5-10 per month.
The other bill, LD 1776, would begin to pay Maine’s nursing homes what they are owed. They are currently underfunded by Medicaid to the tune of $30 million per year. LD 1776 would close one-third of that gap.
Maine’s nursing homes, and the people who work at them, have been squeezed for funding for years while the state has expanded Medicaid to cover more people. A full 68 percent of nursing home residents rely on Medicaid to cover their food and shelter, and several homes have closed or are close to it due to underfunding.
Medicaid and other public assistance programs were originally designed for children, the elderly and the disabled, not for able-bodied adults who can work.
I support LD 1776 but do not support Medicaid expansion. Maine seniors should be put back at the front of the line for services.
Rep. Jeff Timberlake, Turner