Forum addresses Maine health care cuts

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FARMINGTON — The Western Maine Legislative Caucus will host a forum on Feb. 14 to discuss “Community Impacts of Maine’s Health Care Cuts” with representatives from Maine Equal Justice Partners, the Maine Hospital Association and the Maine Heritage Policy Center, among others.

The event will begin at 7 a.m. at the Olsen Student Center at the University of Maine at Farmington.

In response to an estimated $221 million, two-year budget gap at the Department of Health and Human Services, Gov. Paul LePage proposed budget cuts affecting an estimated 65,000 people enrolled in MaineCare. Figures released in February by Maine Equal Justice Partners predict that approximately 1,919 people in Franklin County — about 6 percent of the population — could be affected by the cuts, which seek to address the DHHS funding gap without raising taxes.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center reported in December that raising taxes to address the problem would result in a statewide loss of more than 6,000 private-sector jobs.

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This week, the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee submitted a bipartisan budget alternative to the LePage plan that would maintain the MaineCare rolls while making alternative budget cuts needed to continue services. The Appropriation Committee’s plan for closing the gap includes capping the cost of services available for childless adults at $40 million.

Tuesday’s forum will explore the effects of health care cuts on Franklin County. The forum will begin promptly at 7 a.m. and will include a free buffet breakfast at 8 a.m. Registration is not required, but RSVPs are requested for meal-planning purposes. Contact the Western Mountains Alliance at (207) 778-3885 or info@westernmountainsalliance.org by Feb. 11.

Caucus forums are free and open to the public. The program is sponsored by the Western Mountains Alliance, the University of Maine at Farmington, Mt. Blue Regional School District, Franklin Community Health Network, Western Maine Community Action and the Greater Franklin Development Corp.

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