Welfare Expansion is Not Free: Maine Taxpayers Would Carry the Burden

September 17, 2013

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Sept. 18
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage released a statement today after Democratic leaders held a news conference calling for more welfare debt in Maine by expanding Medicaid to adults who do not have disabilities and do not have children.

“We just paid a half-a-billion dollars in welfare debt to Maine’s community hospitals, and now Democrats want to start racking up more welfare debt by expanding Medicaid to people who have other options for affordable health care,” said Governor LePage.

He noted that Maine already has one of the most costly welfare programs per capita in the country. “Liberals like to point to other governors who want to expand Medicaid, but they fail to tell the people of Maine that this state already expanded welfare a decade ago. That’s what resulted in the hospital welfare debt of almost $500 million,” the Governor said.

“The states that are expanding now are just catching up to Maine,” Governor LePage added. “Claiming we need to expand welfare is just the Democrats’ way of trying to buy votes by promising something they can’t deliver.”

“We want all Mainers to have access to quality, affordable health care, but not if it heaps more of burden on hard-working Maine taxpayers and families,” Governor LePage said. “Expansion of Medicaid welfare would not be free. Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services has shown the expansion of welfare would cost Maine millions of taxpayer dollars in the short term and then $150 million in each budget after that. There is no free lunch.”

Rather than expand welfare and burden taxpayers, the Governor demands that the system first take care of Maine’s truly needy: the elderly and disabled who are still waiting for services. “Expanding welfare to younger adults with no children and no disabilities makes no sense when our system cannot take care of our citizens who need services the most,” he said. “Why would we steal welfare money from grandparents and give it to childless adults who are capable of working and getting health care through other means?”

“All Mainers should have affordable health care, but waving Medicaid expansion like a magic wand will not solve the problems in our welfare system,” the Governor said. “We need to better manage our programs, provide care for our neediest residents and keep cracking down on fraud and abuse before adding one more dollar or one more person to the system.”