Facts and Frequently Asked Questions Posted on Office of the Governor Website to Better Inform Public about Medicaid Plan

December 13, 2011

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Contact: Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – With the Legislature's budget-reviewing committee convening today to begin four days of review of proposed changes in Maine’s Medicaid program also known as MaineCare, Governor Paul LePage has posted more information about his plan onto the Office of the Governor website. In an effort to better inform Maine People the website offers additional information about the Department of Health and Human Services supplemental budget which includes facts and frequently asked questions about the Governor’s plan to reform Medicaid.

In a recent Democratic radio address, the Governor was accused by Sen. Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, of creating the plan for political gain – an accusation that Governor LePage says has no merit. The Governor answers the question, “Is this politically motivated?” on the website. It reads,” On April 1, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services will run out of money to pay for Medicaid benefits. There are no politics involved with this fact. If this problem is not addressed now, it will continue to be an issue because Maine no longer can:

• Rely on federal stimulus funds to pay for Medicaid
• Refuse to pay its hospital bills – a devastating tactic employed by the last administration that the Governor began to fix with his first budget.

The fact is, the Governor tried to implement structural change to the Medicaid plan last session, however, those proposals which included the repeal of childless adults and individuals 19 and 20 years old within the Medicaid program were not accepted. At that time, the Governor and DHHS officials warned legislators of the fiscal problems with the program yet failed to act. “Now the money trail has added up and the deficit is significantly higher. We would not be facing nearly as large of a hole to fill if this problem was addressed earlier,” said the Governor. “Instead of a $220 million shortfall we’d be looking at around $90 million.”

Additionally, the Governor addresses on the website other issues such as across the board cuts and private non-medical institutions also known as PNMIs which provide residential and medically necessary services to people who are not at the level of care for a hospital or nursing home but need continuing care.

The Governor explains that Maine is one of two states offering similar PNMI benefits. However, the federal government has expressed concern over the last several years that PNMI is not a model they endorse. They have a variety of concern, included whether room and board is included in treatment rates. Room and board is not considered a medical service and is not eligible for federal matching funds.

“These services are valuable to many Mainers, but the pressure from the federal government cannot be ignored. Federal matching funds are no longer an option for PNMI room and board therefore, the Legislature must take a close look at the program,” said the Governor. “These cuts are not easy decisions because they do involve real people. These are going to be difficult days ahead, but these conversations must begin and I encourage Democrats and Republicans to set aside their differences and work toward solutions.”

Governor LePage maintains that across the board cuts are not the responsible approach to address the $220 million shortfall. The Governor says across the board cuts will result in drastic reductions in education, public safety, economic and community development and many other programs Maine people depend on. “If broad-based cuts are implemented all Mainers will be significantly impacted,” stated the Governor. “The facts are clear. Maine cannot afford its Medicaid program as it currently stands. Change must occur through restructuring eligibility, re-designing benefits and adopting payment reform which addresses structural problems and will put Maine’s Medicaid program on a path to financial accountability.”

Today, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew presents fiscal analysis to the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs. Public hearings will start on Wednesday and continue on Thursday and Friday.