Mainers Weigh In: Should the State Pay its Debt?

March 6, 2013

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Mar. 6
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531

Mainers Weigh In: Should the State Pay its Debt?

AUGUSTA – How do some Mainers feel about the State of Maine’s $484 million debt owed to Maine 39 hospitals? According to a video released by the Office of the Governor Wednesday, Mainers say the state should pay the money that is owed to the hospitals.

The video, which reflects views of a dozen Mainers, is an effort to hear directly from citizens about the looming issue that is before the Legislature. Beth Evans, of Mount Vernon, said the State of Maine has a responsibility to pay its debt. “We can’t continue to spend money we don’t have. We can’t continue with obligations we don’t pay,” Evans said.

On January 15, Governor Paul R. LePage announced his plan to pay $484 million in unpaid Medicaid bills – debt dating back to 2009 – to Maine hospitals. Shortly thereafter, Governor LePage submitted emergency legislation to the Legislature, where the measure awaits a public hearing. Members of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee are scheduled to take up the bill, “An Act To Improve the Return to the State on the Sale of Spirits and To Provide a Source of Payment for Maine's Hospitals”, at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, Mar. 11.

The three-minute video shares simple and easy to understand facts, including information about reduced federal funding in the next two years, according to *Medicaid Cost Containment Strategies. It is estimated that the federal government’s match rate to the State of Maine for Medicaid will drop by $17 million in 2014 and by $23 million in 2015 – an added expense that will have to be picked up by Maine taxpayers.

Watch the video here:

*Medicaid Cost Containment Strategies, presented to the MaineCare Redesign Task Force, October 9, 2012, Seema Verma, SVC; Robert Damler, Milliman.