Chuck, your insurance agent, calls.

“We’re running a special offer on health care insurance — three years for free,” he says.

“What’s the catch?” you ask.

“Nothing,” he says, “other than that the price will go up in three years.”

“Hmm,” you say. “Three years for free? Then the price will go up?”

“Sorry, Chuck. I’d rather have no health care insurance for the next three years if that’s the deal.”

The only person likely to make that argument with a straight face would be a person who already has health care insurance, like the governor and members of the Legislature.

But that’s what Paul LePage and minority Republicans seem to be saying to thousands of uninsured people in Maine.

Refusing to accept an extension of Medicaid, as they are now doing, is like Bath Iron Works turning down a lucrative federal contract because it will end in three years.

Three years means 36 months of better health care for thousands of Mainers. If Maine doesn’t accept this money, it will simply go to other federal priorities, like providing the same care to poor people in other states.

The governor says he is bargaining with the federal government to get a better deal for Maine. But the governor’s track record of obtaining special deals for Maine is dismal.

There is no reason the governor cannot take the first three years and continue to bargain. Is his bargaining chip that he will deny his own people health insurance if he doesn’t get his way?

That’s no bargain; that’s like holding your own family hostage. But this governor’s stock and trade is threat, bluster and force.

We suspect the governor’s refusal to accept this money to benefit poor people is really based upon his personal distaste for the Affordable Care Act and ill will toward Democrats in the Legislature.

The governor has said several times that he hopes the ACA dies and he is willing to do anything in his power to kill it.

Republicans in the Legislature now complain they feel too rushed to understand how this program works.

Actually, it’s more like the governor and legislative Republicans have simply refused to prepare or do the homework.

When the governor came to office, Maine was well on the way to implementing the Affordable Care Act. The governor ended that preparatory work, hoping the Supreme Court would kill the ACA.

The court didn’t kill the program, and that was a year ago. Republican have had 12 months to think about this. If they don’t understand it, it’s their own fault, and they shouldn’t punish uninsured Mainers for their failure to prepare.

Part of the problem is that the governor and the Republican legislative press office have defined health care as welfare.

Mainers who are not able to afford medical care should just quit being so lazy, get off their butts and earn more money.

The price of their “failure” could be steep, but the Republicans seem willing to accept that they will die of an undiagnosed cancer or be bankrupted by an extended illness.

But we suspect Gov. LePage is beyond his rational argument stage, if he ever had one on this issue.

The man doesn’t compromise, doesn’t back up, doesn’t back down, doesn’t change course, is immune to new information, contemptuous of contrary views and comfortable with chaos and bitterness.

Republicans in the Legislature have been far less dogmatic when they see the public’s interest is at stake.

They should take a fresh look at the Medicaid extension, think about the thousands of Mainers who have no health care at all, then do the right thing.

[email protected]

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


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: