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For Immediate Release

Date: 01/11/14

Dems Un-Invite Alexander to Give HHS Committee Briefing

Republicans call on Dems to let welfare consultant speak; listen to new information

AUGUSTA - In a shocking move by the Democratic chairpersons of the Maine Legislature's Health & Human Services Committee Saturday afternoon, welfare consultant Gary Alexander's invitation to brief the committee on Tuesday on his Medicaid expansion study has been rescinded. Alexander's firm has been contracted by the state's Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) to conduct a review of the state's welfare programs.

The first part of the review, released Friday, was an estimate of the long-term costs of Medicaid expansion. It put an $807 million price tag on the proposal, an integral part of the Democrats' agenda. Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Lewiston) and Rep. Richard Farnsworth (D-Portland), via committee staff, e-mailed DHHS to revoke the invitation, citing the committee's "busy schedule."

"My Democratic colleagues have spent months blasting the LePage Administration for not sending personnel to committee hearings that were designed only for partisan publicity, and when the administration sent written materials instead, they scoffed," said Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea), lead House Republican on the HHS Committee.

"Now the Democrats are suddenly saying they don't want live testimony, and that the written report will do," said Sanderson. "I don't know if it's because the results of the study make it inconvenient to conduct their usual publicity stunt or because they just don't want to hear information that contradicts their desired outcome, but it's wrong either way.

The HHS Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on LD 1578, the Medicaid expansion bill, on Wednesday. "It's unfortunate that Democratic committee leadership has chosen to suppress very important information that could be helpful on the eve of the public hearing for Medicaid expansion," added Sanderson.

Rep. Sanderson joined House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport in calling on the Democrats to allow Alexander to speak.

"The people of Maine expect us to consider all the information before casting our votes," said Rep. Fredette. "By ignoring the perspectives they don't like and only relying on the information that supports their desired outcome, Democrats are doing a disservice to the people they represent. They should allow Alexander the chance to speak and explain his study on Tuesday."

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David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
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