Eves’ Eleventh Hour Medicaid Expansion Ploy Is as Political as It Gets

April 17, 2014

For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 17
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage today responded to the introduction by House Speaker Mark Eves of a fourth bill to expand Medicaid. Eves calls the bill “dramatically different” from other Medicaid expansion-related bills. However, the legislation comes on the final day of session, leaving no time for a public discussion or debate.

“Leave it to liberals to wait until the absolute last minute to try to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes. The only problem is we all saw it coming,” said Governor LePage. “It’s disturbing that liberal leadership refuses to listen to the people of Maine when they say they want real welfare reform. Instead, liberals push policies that will cost Maine taxpayers millions of dollars and put the state deeper into debt.”

Speaker Eves’ bill is similar to legislation that recently passed in New Hampshire. New Hampshire lawmakers crafted the legislation after Medicaid expansion model in Arkansas, which uses federal money to pay for subsidies for low-income childless adults. However, experts have shown Arkansas, which is only in its fourth month of operation, is experiencing significant problems with the cost of the program.

The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) recently released data indicating the “private option” Medicaid expansion plan in Arkansas is suffering enormous cost overruns into the millions of dollars.

Unfortunately for Arkansas taxpayers, they are already on the hook for all of those overruns. The federal government caps its per-member, per-month contribution for newly eligible Medicaid recipients on the program. In other words, the feds cover 100%, but only up to the cap. If the Medicaid program exceeds the per-member, per-month cap, the state’s taxpayers are responsible for making up the difference. In two of the first three months that the Arkansas “private option” plan has been operating, the number of Medicaid recipients has exceeded the cap.

“What we see happening in Arkansas is another reason that Maine would be reasonable and prudent not to expand Medicaid,” said Governor LePage. “We cannot go grab federal money without understanding just how much Maine taxpayers will wind up paying. Furthermore, it is incredibly irresponsible to put taxpayers on the hook when federal health care subsidies are available that would provide virtually free health care for low-income Mainers.”