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House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/11/13

House Republicans' Statement on Democrats' Hospital Proposal

Encouraged to see Democrats prioritize debt; Republicans will work with them

AUGUSTA - House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) issued the following statement in response to the Democrats' plan presented 30 minutes prior to the public hearing on competing liquor contract proposals.

"I am very pleasantly surprised that Democrats have acknowledged that we should pay our past-due bills to Maine's hospitals and pay them in full. Since this morning's press conference was the first I have heard of their plan, I look forward to sitting down with Democrats and the Governor to discuss the best way to move forward with paying off our debt and creating jobs for Mainers."

Republicans have felt very strongly that the liquor revenue should be used to pay off our hospital debt once and for all. We have received criticism from the press for the persistence of our message, but I feel it was worth it. Maine people expect vigorous debate here in Augusta—debate that produces results. The Democrats have proposed an interesting plan that I look forward to considering, but again, I am encouraged to see that they have put paying our bills to Maine hospitals front and center in it."

Assistant House Republican Leader Alexander Willette (R-Mapleton) agreed.

"The Democrats' proposal is a welcome sign of progress in this public debate, and I'm happy to see them come around to the idea of paying off our debt to Maine hospitals soon and in full. The liquor revenue should be used wisely and not squandered to patch up government cost overruns as it was 10 years ago. There are many troubling aspects to the Democrats' plan for the liquor business and for Medicaid expansion, but I look forward to those discussions and I'm newly confident that we can get this done."

Democrats also rolled out a proposal to expand Medicaid under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. It is unclear whether they are considering their hospital debt proposal to be contingent upon passage of Medicaid expansion.

Another item that remains unclear is where in the budget Democrats intend to find the $80 million they will need to cover the rest of the debt after the winning bidder cuts a check for $100 million to pay back the hospitals. Maine hospitals and job seekers shouldn't have to wait any longer than they have to, and tying a hospital debt proposal into the biennial budget could jeopardize and stall the issue even further.

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Contact:
David Sorensen, Communications Director
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793