Gov. LePage says state can no longer afford to insure childless adults

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Gov. Paul LePage is expected to unveil a plan this week to close a $120 million deficit in the budget for the state Department of Health and Human Services.

While details of the plan have yet to be revealed, LePage said during his weekly radio address Saturday that the state can no longer afford a Medicaid program that provides health insurance to some 19,000 low-income adults who do not have children.

LePage says the program which began in 2002 has cost the state nearly $40 million over the past two years.

Supporters of the program say it would be wrong to take health coverage away from residents at this time.

Democratic leaders have urged LePage to consider balancing the department's budget by looking for cuts in other agencies.

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

Mark Elliott's picture

At the end of the day, the

At the end of the day, the reason for these cuts is because we are losing federal funding for the program and Maine simply can't make up that loss, therefore the cuts are coming right from Washington! Looks like a duck, sounds like a duck.......but some of you are choosing to call it a crow.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

I just read the proposed

I just read the proposed budget cuts and I am so angry right now that all I can say is Governor LePage come walk a mile in my shoes before you propose cutting children's behavioral health services.....why don't you cut your salary or the salary of family members you have in state positions before you take from a group of people that have the greatest need. I really wish he would speak to real people and not the rich.

Mark Elliott's picture

You need to start paying more

You need to start paying more attention to what LePage is doing and less to what liberals are telling you he is doing. He speaks with "regular" Mainers every day! You just have to go to the LAST pages of the newspapers to get those stories.

Mark Elliott's picture

because his salary and the

because his salary and the salary of his one family member would not even cone close to making a difference........at the end of the day, our state spends more than it has coming in. THAT is irresponsible no matter how you look at it. Cuts need to be made and someone isn't going to like it, this time it's you, next time it might be me, period.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

government has been cutting

government has been cutting the stuff for the elderly, disabled, and poor for a long time....if behavioral health for children is cut then many of the children will go without needed services.....its time the rich start paying and the kids get left alone.....they take from children's services, they take from education, they take from the elderly, they take from the veterans, they take from the disabled.....maybe we should start electing children to our public offices and have bills signed with crayon to make a point

Mark Elliott's picture

it's all because of almost 40

it's all because of almost 40 years of take, take, take coming from the "entitled" causing the state to give, give, give........unfortunately "we the people" weren't paying attention and we allowed the state to give, give, give, too much and now can't afford to give, give, give more to make up for the cut coming from the fed and the fed is in the same boat as the states are. When does it stop? Do you allow your children to take, take, take from you? Or do you eventually tell them "no"? Because you simply can not afford to give any more.....Right now, our state government is doing what it needs to and saying "NO" just like we have to do with our children.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

then take it from able bodied

then take it from able bodied adults and the rich and leave the elderly, veterans, disabled and children alone

Mark Elliott's picture

Because it's the DHHS budget

Because it's the DHHS budget we are talking about.....EVERYONE in their programs is "needy" therefore, it stands to reason, the "needy" will take a cut just like many of us are doing at home.

Nick Adams's picture

By the way, from what it

By the way, from what it looks like to me, that is pretty much what LePage is attempting to do is refuse it from the able-bodied adults.

Nick Adams's picture

Everyone does realize the

Everyone does realize the United States of America (this includes the State of Maine) is a Free Democracy with a Capitalistic Society. In other words, you make your own bed... If everyone wants to support one another, There's always Communism. Sorry to say it so blunt.

Mark Elliott's picture

Believe it or not Nick, there

Believe it or not Nick, there are people out there that want exactly that!

Nick Adams's picture

Thank you. Well stated.

Thank you. Well stated.

JOHN PAINTER's picture

Proposed budget just released

Proposed budget just released http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/budget/

JOHN PAINTER's picture

Protecting the safety net

It is unfortunate our Governor continues to struggle with developing a voice which elicits hope as much as it does anxiety amongst Mainers, never the less in this instance he is correct to draw attention to the very deep and systemic problems in our states Medicaid plan - MaineCare. Indeed he is somewhat understated as to our dire straits (fiscal and systems) needing immediate attention to assure MaineCares preservation for our most disabled children and adults.

Our entire MaineCare based safety net is, and has been, in a very precarious position for some years now; with DHHS perennially millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars in deficit, a still unresolved class action lawsuit (AMHI Consent Decree), ongoing problems with MIHMS billing system, heavy and potentially illegal state service taxes upon non-profits, non compliance with Federal rules for PNMI services, and potential trouble with the Department of Justice looming; heartbreaking, decisive and compassionate decisions must somehow be made to protect our citizens who are elderly and frail, and our most disabled children and adults.

The proposed elimination of our state 1115 waiver from CMS allowing non-disabled adults (so-called non-categorical) to enroll in MaineCare, will indeed result in people becoming uninsured. However, people who receive non-categorical MaineCare by definition qualify for MaineCare because of income, not disability, illness, or age. It is important to keep in mind children and adults who are disabled or seriously ill will remain enrolled in MaineCare, and those who become disabled in the future will still qualify for MaineCare.

The a Governor would do well, as he proposes very painful changes, to simultaneously call on all Mainers to help identify and work towards rebuilding a more sustainable, effective, and accessible system for all Mainers.

Nick Adams's picture

It would just be nice to help

It would just be nice to help eliminate the people who are "playing" the system in order to receive MaineCare (and this looks like a small step in the right direction for it). I have insurance through my own work, between my wife and I (according to MaineCare) we are supposed to be able to afford a seven person house before we could qualify for MaineCare, but still struggling to keep our head above water. I do understand for the people out there who do need the services, the economy is tough and everything is tough. Something needs to be done to dig us out of the hole right now and people "playing" the system just plain ticks me off, for taking our taxpaying $'s and how pathetic their integrity is that they keep doing it.

How about we get MaineCare set up like unemployment, after so much time of being on it (and you're a perfectly capable person of attempting to get a job) they drop your coverage. Originally MaineCare was designed for the needy and to help people get back on their feet in the first place, I thought.

JOHN PAINTER's picture

I definitely understand your

I definitely understand your frustrations Nick, Maine has always had challenges crafting public policy.

MaineCare (our states Medicaid program) is a joint state and federal program, as such each state writes its own plan (which must be approved Federally by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid aka CMS) which needs to include certain basic coverages in certain ways as statutorily required under the Social Security Act (Medicare and Medicaid fall under the Social Security Act) while leaving room for each state to target additional populations or areas of need.

While I suppose it's possible to "play" the system to get Medicaid (this was attempted recently in a video taped publicity stunt - and went no where), the real issue I think the Governor is attempting to address is because we have a waiver to allow income eligibility, the bar is set quite high allowing non-disabled working people with considerable assets to qualify - legitimately. Yes this comes across to some as playing the system.

I think the Governors proposal, while approaching the problem with little finesse, is none the less pragmatic in order to save MaineCare for those children and adults who are seriously medically disabled and have no alternative.

MaineCare really can't be set up to act "like unemployment" without an Act of Congress. Our Governor and DHHS Commissioner can, with informed input, be much better prepared to give up waivers we can not afford, refocus our limited resources on our most disabled, and resubmit a new plan to CMS.

Nick Adams's picture

I do understand where you are

I do understand where you are coming from that what or who the system was designed for and is also Federally funded. I also do know it would take an Act of Congress, my statement was just a mere impulsive idea. The idea of playing the system in which you're talking about is not what I'm speaking of. I saw the media thing, that had nothing to do with what I meant. I am talking about people who will intentionally not work that have kids, in order to just keep getting assistance. People that are perfectly capable of getting jobs. I have a bad taste in my mouth about it due to an experience via third person. In relation to my previous sentence, I think anyone who applies and receives MaineCare/Medicaid should be drug tested weekly (obviously if someone has to take a legitimate Rx that could compromise the test there would be a reason for that certain drug showing up in the screening, as long as it is within reason to what they are prescribed).

JOHN PAINTER's picture

Nick, I don't think your post

Nick,

I don't think your post was impulsive as much as cathartic, most of us are feeling the pressures of a bad economy and feeling a bit hypervigilant. I am.

Regarding your concerns though, states do not have the ability to impose drug tests to qualify people for federal entitlements (with out a federal amendment), we certainly can amend our state plan so that we only cover the basic services and populations required by CMS. This is much of what Governor LePage and Commissioner Mayhew are proposing in the budget plan just released.

There are actually a number of us in health care supportive of bringing our state Medicaid plan back into alignment with federal rules, and in so doing strengthening our safety net system and reinvigorating civil rights for people with disabilities (I'll explain that below). However, how the Governor introduces such large and sensitive changes leaves much to be desired and in the process, can undermine some of the necessary changes our state needs.

For example, in my field, adult mental health, the state has missed virtually every opportunity to implement a recovery based system - though it has done a lot of talk about it, whether from funding, regulatory or practice perspectives. One of the reasons behind the the proposed elimination of Private Non Medical Institute (PNMI) services is because of; 1) lack of actual rehabilitation practices necessary for Medicaid reimbursement, 2) including custodial care in rehabilitation funded services, 3) likely violation of the Olmstead Act by requiring beneficiaries to live in congregate group settings when the services they need can and already are delivered safely in the community.

Ironically right now, several prominent civil rights groups in the state seem to be arguing for keeping PNMI services, versus arguing for services which are least restrictive, and frequently the most effective and least costly. Countless research has shown people do better if treated in their own communities, families, and homes. Institutional care is best for acute treatment, or when there is a forensic component.

I hope that once the dust settles from the Governors communication style, people will be able to look at our states needs and challenges more pragmatically and compassionately, and make those passioned arguments for our most vulnerable citizens.

Robert McQueeney's picture

This is a hard one. I am

This is a hard one. I am never in favor of just handing out anything, expecting nothing in return. But this view gets tempered a bit when I step back and look at reality.

Maine currently insures 19,000 childless adults. Take away the insurance and these people do not suddenly not require health care. When they need it, what's going to happen? It's going to be emergency room care, overwhelming a system designed for EMERGENCIES by insisting that normal care be taken care of there. Or going elsewhere and otherwise burdening the system.

The point being missed here is that the state will be paying for health care, somewhere, somehow. All this does is just change the way it is being paid for. I am very interested to hear Governor LePage's plan on what will be done. Is his plan to cut off health insurance and absolutely deny health care in any form, thereby saving the state millions of dollars? Or will healthcare somehow be available to these 19,000 and how will that be paid for?

I don't envy the governor trying to balance the budget. It is easy to say do away with this or that, but practical application is a 'nother story.

Libby St Pierre's picture

unclear

Ok, so I have no insurance, and my kids are grown. I don't qualify for any health insurance. I work but my age group falls through the cracks. Should I bust out a couple more kids to qualify? I think I can still produce! Haven't hit 40 yet, but close. Gee, so sorry I suck it up, pay cash if I need to see the doctor (but usually I'm on the verge of death) and pay cash for my meds (or I will die, damn heart). I'm willing to pay a premium, but nothings out there with in reach. Any ideas??

Mark Elliott's picture

I don't see anywhere in this

I don't see anywhere in this article that it says LePage is taking coverage away......just says the state can't afford Medicaid to cover a certain group, and those in that group happen to be without child. The underlying message is quite possibly that Medicaid simply doesn't work for all....maybe we need something else? .....but, liberal blinders fit so damn tight, they don't let you open your minds and see the whole picture. I say, let's wait until the details are revealed before passing judgement......you know, those details that have NOT been revealed yet. The ones that just might deliver a very different message.......

Jennifer Chretien's picture

I agree, let's wait and see

I agree, let's wait and see what the plan is before we freak out. Although I'm willing to believe that there is some connection between the comment about the state not having the money to continue covering these people and the upcoming plan to save money from the Mainecare budget, let's wait and see. There will be plenty of time to have a fit once we hear the actual plan from the governor.

Nathan Schultz's picture

What is the message here?

If you are unable to provide for yourself have kids you can not afford or we can not help you.

David Perry's picture

Medicare

And do what-let them die? The attitude of this administration seems to be to try to balance the budget by imposing on those who have the least political power and are the least able to speak for themselves. What an embarrassment this administration is!

Mike Lachance's picture

Oh yes, "let them die"..

Oh yes, "let them die".. thats it. Enough with the over-the-top reationary theatre.

These absurd reactions are in response to a cold, hard statement of absolute FACT.
LePage told the truth and the liberal ostriches refuse to accept it.

Advertisement

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

I'm interested in ...