For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - The federal government confirmed in a recent letter to the LePage Administration that Maine will be on the hook for welfare expansion, which Maine's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) says will cost the state $75 million per year over the long term.
"This comes as no surprise, and confirms the fact that Maine taxpayers would be on the hook for the current welfare expansion proposal just as they were for past expansions," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "Past MaineCare expansions led to cost overruns, shattered enrollment projections, and the crowding out of education funding without any improvement to rates of charity care, the number of uninsured Mainers, or physical health outcomes."
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which sent the letter, did express a willingness to work with Maine's DHHS in fixing the state's broken medical welfare program. Among the needed reforms are ensuring that autistic children and other vulnerable Mainers get the services they need without being confined to waitlists, improving local health care infrastructure, primary care and nursing facility rates, and changes to dental benefits.
"I'm glad to see that DHHS can begin the work of improving MaineCare, which is critically important," said Fredette. "Expanding this program now would be like building a third story on a house with a crumbling foundation."
Fredette also noted that the letter from CMS confirms that upon expansion, the feds would pay for only 62 percent of the cost of covering 15,500 able-bodied parents who fall between 100 and 133 percent of the federal poverty level and would otherwise not be eligible for Medicaid. Despite talk of 100 percent coverage for new Medicaid enrollees, this would cost Maine taxpayers roughly $18 million per year on an ongoing basis.
"Hospital debt isn't the only penalty past expansions have given us," added Fredette. "We're now being penalized by the federal government with lower funding rates as other states get a better deal. Some states are forming study commissions to see if there's a more fiscally responsible way to work with Obamacare, and I think Maine should be one of them."
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793