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Feds Confirm They Won’t Fully Cover Maine’s Welfare Expansion
May 30, 2013
For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 30
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage responded today to a letter from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stating that Maine will not get increased federal funding if the state chooses to expand its Medicaid program to thousands of non-disabled parents. CMS also rejected a request the Governor made to provide Maine with additional long-term support to ensure the Medicaid program is sustainable for years to come.
“I’m disappointed that the federal government will penalize Maine for our previous generosity,” Governor LePage said. “Maine will not get full funding for able-bodied parents, while other states receive 100 percent. It’s also disappointing that the feds won’t work with us to provide the additional years of funding I requested. Once again, the federal government has failed to come through for Maine. Despite our generosity in expanding welfare over the last decade, we are being offered less than what other states are getting.”
CMS sent the letter to DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew on Friday, May 24, in response to a letter Governor LePage sent in February. Commissioner Mayhew traveled to Washington, D.C. earlier this month to follow up on the letter. The Governor asked if Maine would get 100 percent federal funding to pay for non-disabled parents who were given coverage during the state’s last expansion of welfare.
“The regular matching rate will continue to apply to expenditures for parents who are already eligible for Medicaid,” wrote Cindy Mann, director of CMS. That means Maine will get only 62 percent federal funding for non-disabled parents. Most states are eligible to receive 100 percent federal funding for these parents.
If Maine expands welfare again, the state would have to pay around $30 million annually to cover 41,000 parents who would be 100 percent federally funded in other states.
The federal government also “tentatively concluded” that 10,000 childless adults already covered will receive full federal funding for the first three years of welfare expansion. Although CMS has said it “appears” this is true, they have asked DHHS to do an analysis to guarantee the additional funds. DHHS is working with CMS on the analysis.
CMS expressed interest in working with Maine to improve its MaineCare program to help better serve needy individuals in the program. “Your interest in improving care and lowering costs through better integration of services and greater reliance on home- and community-based long-term care services and supports is very much aligned with CMS priorities,” Mann said in the letter. “Please be assured that we will do whatever we can to support you efforts in these areas.”
Governor LePage asked for more flexibility to ensure that the Maine’s welfare program is meeting the needs of the disabled and elderly, particularly the 3,100 individuals who are on waiting lists waiting for critical services, including home- and community-based services. Governor LePage said these disabled and elderly individuals must be covered before he would consider expanding welfare to non-disabled childless adults.
“We need to focus on fixing the problems we have today,” said the Governor. “Then we can have a discussion about how to responsibly extend coverage options to additional populations.”