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Leader Fredette (left) and Assistant Leader Willette (right).
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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/03/14

GOP Leaders: Medicaid Expansion Alternative Already In Place

Exchange covers most of those eligible for expanded welfare

AUGUSTA - Maine House Republican Leaders on Monday called attention to the built-in, default alternative to ObamaCare's welfare expansion. The health insurance exchange established by the federal government provides coverage that costs next to nothing to most of those who would be eligible for Medicaid if the state expanded.

"Virtually everything the Democrats say Medicaid expansion will do for the state will be done anyway by the exchange if we don't expand," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "That is, everything except for massive costs to the state taxpayers."

Medicaid expansion would cover able-bodied, working age adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. A strong majority of those people fall within the 100-138 percent bracket, and as such, they are eligible for heavily subsidized private insurance on the exchange, which is available to those at 100-400 percent of the poverty level.

"Like most Americans, I oppose ObamaCare overall, but if low-income, able-bodied Mainers are able to use it to have some skin in the game and buy their own insurance for a few dollars per month, I'm going to encourage them to do so instead of burdening state taxpayers with more welfare spending," said Assistant House Republican Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton.

According to data provided to the Governor's Office by the federal government, 4,500 Mainers who would be eligible for Medicaid if Maine expands have already signed up for private coverage on the exchange just two months into its implementation.

"If we expand, we're telling those and thousands of others, 'don't buy your own plan with help from the feds, we want you on welfare.' That's the wrong message to send in a state that's already been economically crippled by welfare dependency," said Rep. Deborah Sanderson (R-Chelsea), ranking House Republican on the Health & Human Services Committee.

Rep. Kathleen Chase (R-Wells), ranking House Republican on the Appropriations Committee, says the exchange would provide hospitals with the reimbursements they would receive if the state expanded Medicaid.

"The hospitals are clamoring for expansion because they want more paying patients, but the reality is federal money is going to Maine hospitals regardless of whether we expand. It's just a matter of whether it comes from the exchange or from Medicaid. In fact, private plans on the exchange actually pay what services cost, unlike Medicaid," said Rep. Chase. "In light of the massive hospital debt the state just paid off, I'd say the exchange is a healthier option than medical welfare for hospitals, taxpayers, and Maine's economy."

According to Maine Community Health Options, a 28 year old male earning $12,000 per year (slightly above poverty level) can get a "Community Value Silver 94" $200 deductible plan with $5 copays for $9.48 per month.

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David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793