Our governor has a short fuse, and his anger toward Barack Obama was on display Monday in Washington when he pledged to do whatever he can to kill ObamaCare in Maine.

But Gov. Paul LePage’s political differences with the president should not prevent 65,000 Mainers from receiving basic health care coverage at no additional cost to Maine taxpayers.

The governor made his point during a panel discussion with two similarly inclined governors during a U.S. Chamber of Commerce meeting.

“I think the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is going to put this country in a spiral,” LePage said, according to a Press Herald account of the discussion.

“I think the country is partly in a spiral now, but I think this president… is going to ruin the American dream as we know it.”

Never mind that most economic indicators seem to show that the country is riding a fairly strong upward spiral at the moment

Never mind that a nearly identical health care plan rolled out in Massachusetts has certainly not destroyed that state’s high living and income standards.

Of course, to the governor, health care is among the rewards economically successful people enjoy, and one of those things that less successful people should simply go without or work harder to get.

“… the American dream is based on earned success. You earn it,” the governor said. “Whereas he (Obama) believes in learned dependency.”

The governor has refused to extend Medicaid benefits to Mainers who happen to be just above the poverty line.

His decision won’t affect the poorest of people, those at or below the poverty line.  It will deprive people of Medicaid coverage who are just above that line, those without insurance who earned up to 138 percent of the poverty rate, sometimes called the working poor.

That includes individuals earning $15,856 or a family of four earning up to $30,000.

According to the Anthem Blue Cross insurance chart on the state’s website, an individual policy with a $2,000 deductible for a 55-year-old would be about $6,500 per year. That policy features a $50 co-pay for a regular office visit.

The federal government has pledged to pay 100 percent of the cost of insuring these people for three years, then 90 percent after that. Whatever money Maine does not accept will simply be re-allocated to cooperating states.

The unexplained thing about the governor’s position is that many of these people have jobs, it’s just that the jobs they have pay poorly, are intermittent or seasonal.

Denying them health care insurance means they do not have a family physician, they do not get checkups, nobody notices if they have high blood pressure or writes them a prescription to fix that.

Statistics show the uninsured are much more likely to suffer from a chronic disease or go to the emergency room for a non-emergency issue.

Or, worse, they arrive at the hospital with a heart attack, stroke or in a diabetic coma.

Then those of us who have insurance end up paying for their care through our hospital bills and health insurance premiums.

The governor is bargaining for a 10-year commitment from the federal government to fund this program.

It is true that other states are getting far more benefit out of the Medicaid extension than Maine, which already insures a higher proportion of its citizens than many Southern and Western states do.

We should wait for a yes/no answer from the feds.

Either way, though, the governor should eventually do the logical and compassionate thing — extend Medicare coverage to thousands of Mainers.

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The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.


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