Governor LePage calls on Kathleen Sebelius to Take Responsibility for Failure to Help Mainers

December 5, 2013

For Immediate Release: Thursday, December 5
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage sent a letter (see below)today to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, criticizing the federal government for providing misleading and inaccurate information to Mainers seeking MaineCare eligibility.

The Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) is supposed to help Mainers determine whether they qualify for Medicaid or for a subsidy to purchase private health insurance. The federal government promised to send the applicants’ information to Maine so the state could make the final determination about eligibility. The federal government has failed to send this information.

“As we both know, Maine cannot determine whether individuals qualify for Medicaid (MaineCare) unless you provide us with the information you collected, yet failed to send. This delay rests solely with the federal government,” Governor LePage wrote. “You have been sending letters to applicants telling them that the FFM has completed its review and that the final decision rests with the State. This is worse than misleading; it is a disservice to those individuals.”

In late November, Maine DHHS wrote to more than 600 individuals (see link to letter below) who applied to the FFM and received communication from the federal government that said they may qualify for Medicaid. The letter sent by Maine DHHS informed these individuals that the state cannot process the application until it receives complete information from the federal government.

The Governor asked Sebelius to communicate with these Mainers to make it clear that the delay is entirely the fault of federal government, not the state. Governor LePage also expressed concern that the delay will prevent Mainers from signing up for insurance by the federally imposed deadline of December 23 so they can get coverage starting January 1.

“Since you have no guidance for when your computer systems will start sending the necessary information to Maine, the administrative burden that will fall on State staff will be overwhelming, especially with the likelihood that the number of applications will continue to grow,” Governor LePage wrote. “I want to be clear that our state will not accept, nor bear the burden of what the federal government has caused in its failed system launch.”

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