LEWISTON — Citing negative impact on city hospitals and a potential drain on General Assistance funding, city councilors Tuesday urged Gov. Paul LePage and state legislators to work out their differences on MaineCare funding.
“I wanted to bring this forward out of concern for our two largest employers, Central Maine Medical Center and St. Mary’s hospital, and the potential loss of $20 million in MaineCare funds,” Ward 3 Councilor Nathan Libby said. “Regardless of your opinion of MaineCare, these cuts could be devastating to our local employers.”
LePage’s proposed spending plan calls for sweeping cuts to MaineCare in response to a Department of Health and Human Services budget shortfall. The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee has been working on a compromise plan that would partially fund state programs through June.
LePage has said he would veto such a compromise.
The City Council urged both sides to come up with a plan that would preserve hospital funding. Libby said the current cuts could send people needing assistance to the city’s General Assistance offices looking for financial help.
“It’s just one more example of the state shifting its responsibilities to the municipalities,” Libby said.
Councilors approved a resolution saying that by a 5-1 vote. Ward 7 Councilor Richard Desjardins voted against it, saying the city’s resolution should include suggestions for budget cuts.
“The budget shortfall is there and I don’t understand how else they can come up with that money,” Desjardins said. “Nobody likes layoffs, but it is what it is.”