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Rep. Fredette (left) and Rep. Willette prior to a press conference in April, 2014.
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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/10/14

House Republican Leaders Praise Budget Agreement

Bipartisan deal closes $30 million shortfall without tax hikes; funds Medicaid waitlists, nursing homes

AUGUSTA - House Republican leaders on Wednesday morning praised a budget deal reached by the Legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee early Wednesday morning.

The deal closes a $30 million budget gap while moving disabled Mainers off of Medicaid wait lists and increasing the Medicaid reimbursement rate for Maine nursing homes, two priorities that Republicans have advocated strongly in favor of during the debate about Medicaid expansion.

"We've been saying for a while that Medicaid is for the elderly and disabled, not for able-bodied young adults," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "This budget reflects those priorities, and I'm glad we accomplished this together instead of implementing ObamaCare's welfare expansion for 70,000 able-bodied adults."

The proposal to expand welfare under ObamaCare currently lacks the votes to overcome a veto that is expected Wednesday from Governor Paul LePage. The deal struck by the budget committee uses funds that will be freed up from the scheduled reduction of Medicaid coverage to able-bodied parents in order to fund the wait lists for disabled Mainers in fiscal year 2015 and beyond.

"If we expand Medicaid, we'll have to divert this funding away from the disabled Mainers on the wait lists and use it to re-expand coverage to 15,000 able-bodied adults of working age," said Assistant House Republican Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton. "It's time we get our priorities straight in our Medicaid program and refocus it to help Maine's most vulnerable people, and this budget is an important step in doing just that."

A recent report commissioned by the Legislature found that MaineCare, Maine's Medicaid program, is underfunding nursing homes by $30 million per year. House Republicans supported a proposal to close some of that funding gap, from its committee work sessions onward.

"I'd like to thank the Republicans and Democrats on the committee who worked hard to negotiate this important bill to balance Maine's budget and refocus our Medicaid program on the elderly and disabled instead of expanding Medicaid to able-bodied adults," added Rep. Fredette. "And they did it all without raising taxes."

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