For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - House and Senate Republican leadership held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to call on Democrats to bring the commonsense measure to pay Maine's hospital bills to a clean vote, without Medicaid expansion or other add-ons attached.
"Paying our hospital bills so we can get Mainers back to work is the one big thing we all agree on," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport). "Putting this jobs bill at the mercy of contentious, unresolved add-ons like Medicaid expansion is reminiscent of the kind of Washington-style pork barrel earmarks that generate so much bad policy from the feds."
"We were shocked and disappointed to hear that Democrats are willing to jeopardize the hospital bill they support just to rush the Medicaid issue," added Assistant House Republican Leader Alexander Willette (R-Mapleton). "I was hopeful that the hospital bill was the one big thing we could get done for Maine's economy this year, regardless of whatever else happened. Those hopes are now in jeopardy."
After Democrats seemed to back off of the hardline condition they were attaching to paying the hospital bills on the radio and in statements to the press Monday and early Tuesday, Republicans felt it important to make it absolutely clear where they stand on the issue of hospital repayment, and to call on Democrats to pass the Governor's hospital proposal.
Rep. Fredette added that Republicans have not refused Medicaid expansion. "The Democrats' latest actions have thrown a wrench in the Governor's process of negotiating the best deal for Maine," he said. "They want to pay sticker price for the car on the lot so they can have it now instead of taking the time to negotiate for the best deal."
In a meeting earlier this afternoon, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew told Fredette that even with the latest news from the Obama Administration about Medicaid expansion funding levels for the next three years, Maine would be on the hook for over $100 million in additional spending per biennium beyond the "free" period. The Governor is bargaining for 100 percent coverage for 10 years, which amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for Maine taxpayers.
"It is fiscal malpractice for the Democrats to be rushing expansion of the very program that created our hospital debt in the first place, while simultaneously holding payment of that debt hostage," concluded Fredette. "They've been very unclear about where they stand on paying our hospitals over the past few days, and it's time they made up their minds because the economy is waiting."
Maine House Republicans
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