R. Reed: Saving the system

During the past 30 years there has been tremendous growth in the budget of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, both in the Medicaid insurance program and in other programs offered to those in need.

Sadly, the state government failed the public as officials continued to enact more programs and offered a broader safety net than that established by federal regulation. That meant less money from the federal government and higher state tax rates.

Until the Gov. Paul LePage administration, there had been no efforts to control spending or review the programs to make sure they were serving the needs of those truly in need. It has gone from being a safety net to being an easy alternative for too many individuals who could have other resources. The current model is unsustainable.

Program changes that can be made include placing caps on reimbursement to hospitals that limit reimbursement based on executive compensation, removing childless adults who are able to work and removing those who choose MaineCare for their children only because it is a less expensive alternative to coverage offered by their employer.

Overpayments to health care providers under the old computer system must be collected.

The size of the DHHS administration staff must be reduced and remaining programs should be consolidated.

Changes must be made to the system. Some recipients would be affected in order to keep the rest of the system in place for those who truly need help.

Stop the rhetoric. Save the system.

Robert Reed, Lewiston

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Comments

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Robert, You are opening

Robert,

You are opening yourself up to lots of criticism, but you are saying something that I believe needs to be said. Maine as two choices: 1. Prune services today to a sustainable level and continue to have a safety net. 2. Continue on its current path until the system collapses of its own weight at which the entire safety net could disappear.

In my opinion, safety net service, along with the tax code (i.e. income credits) has become a stealthy way to redistribute income over the past 30 years, and it is now starting to crack at the edges.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Meeting our needs

A person listening to all the lies state officials tell us when they want our vote could be forgiven for assuming that they want to help us, work for us, maybe even solve some of our problems. Certainly we don't elect officials in Maine for the purpose of meeting the needs of the citizens of Massachusetts. We definitely don't elect them for their beauty or their entertaining personalities. Frankly if they are not working for us I'm not sure why they are there. Maybe just to take orders from their financial supporters? Or maybe just to further the agenda of some national think tank? Maybe just to use their power to bully the powerless? That must be why we elect them definitely not to meet the needs of the citizens of the State of Maine.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

30 years

So there has been growth in the budget in the last 30 years. What's the problem? Who would like to get a salary from 30 years ago? Who would like to drive a car from 30 years ago? How many people have the same waistline as 30 years ago? People need to get their eyes unstuck from the rear view mirror and choose what is best for the road ahead not the one we passed 30 years ago. There have been many medical, psychological and sociological advances in that time and we should be responding to them. Sometimes preventive care costs less than neglect and sometimes city dwellers have different needs than rural dwellers. And maybe an aging population has different problems than a young population.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Claire, According to the Tax

Claire,

According to the Tax Foundation, Maine’s tax burden has been slightly more than 10% for the last 3 decades [1]. As personal income rise due to economic growth in the private sector, Maine has more revenue in absolute dollars.

In layman’s terms, Maine as already benefited from Robert’s pay increases, as well as mine.
Given that state revenue has grown pretty much in parallel with Maine’s economic growth, any budget short fall is due to increases in spending. Moreover, it is clear to the average reader that it is not sustainable to grow sending faster than economic growth – nor should we.

Perhaps you should see budget cuts as a corrective action to bring the system back to its norm.

Another interesting takeaway from [1] is that Maine’s tax burden is a few bias points above the national average while Maine’s mean income is significantly lower than the national average. The takeaway is that a Maine resident already pays a disproportional amount of their income as compared to the national average; do you want them to pay more?

[1] http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/458.html

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The tax foundation?

I think I would like to know more about who this tax foundation is. Is it anything like the Heritage Foundation who can twist statistics to make them say anything that will support their ideaology? I know better than to trust any figures from an anonymous foundation until I know their bias.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Claire, You need to judge

Claire,

You need to judge for yourself [1]. Their data is pretty much in line with Maine Department of Revenue’s data, but historical data is a bit harder to find on the Department of Revenue’s web-site [2].

That being said, I must correct a misstatement. An unbalanced budget could also mean revenues are down due to an economic downturn even through the tax burden remains relatively flat as a percentage of income.

In either case, Maine need not raise taxes to cover the shortfall.

[1] http://www.taxfoundation.org/about/
[2] http://www.maine.gov/revenue/incomeestate/homepage.html

 's picture

As usual its always the victims fault

Today is the Republicans' National Day of Truth - Pass the blame day.
I thought Republicans' believed in State's Rights - "state officials ....offered a broader safety net than that established by federal regulation". I thought state officials were charged with meeting the needs of the people of Maine. Last I looked Maine wasn't average or any other arbitrary standard.
More LePage propaganda is "Until the Gov. Paul LePage administration, no efforts to control spending or review the programs". For years, MDHH had a permanent staff looking into waste and fraud; seems to have caught the current Speaker of the House for example. Yes, MDHH has not been the best example of good government and yes the Department should be re-organized and cleaned up.
But that means real investigations not ideologically driven witch hunts by an administration that so far has done nothing execept embarrass the State.

Jim Cyr's picture

States Rights

has no place in the rule of law. People, and only People, have Rights.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Where is it written

Where is it written that state officials are charged with meeting the needs of the people of Maine. please point out the source of that statement. Thanks

RONALD RIML's picture

Where is it written???

Objects of government. We the people of Maine, in order to establish justice, insure tranquility, provide for our mutual defense, promote our common welfare, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty, acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity, so favorable to the design; and, imploring God's aid and direction in its accomplishment, do agree to form ourselves into a free and independent State, by the style and title of the State of Maine and do ordain and establish the following Constitution for the government of the same.

Preamble to the Maine State Constitution - that's where........

David  Cote's picture

Ernest...

I hear crickets...I don't think your question will be answered anytime soon.

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