Maine DHHS Issues Letter to Trump Administration Officials Previewing Forthcoming Medicaid Flexibility Requests

January 26, 2017

Today the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has notified the federal government of its intent to propose further reforms in its Medicaid program.

In a letter to the incoming Secretary of the federal Health and Human Services, Commissioner Mary Mayhew described her intent to request increased flexibility in the program in order to build upon the current fiscal stability within DHHS and to further the Department’s efforts to prioritize our elderly and disabled. This communication with the federal government comes on the heels of liberal efforts to once again push massive welfare expansion in Maine at the ballot box by adding able-bodied adults to Maine’s Medicaid program, MaineCare, at a state cost of more than $400 million over the next five years.

“We believe that President Trump and the incoming executive leadership in Washington present Maine and other reform-minded states with a unique opportunity to reshape the Medicaid program to best fit the needs of their citizens,” said Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “That means expecting able-bodied adults to work, contribute to the cost of their coverage, and pay a small fee if they miss an appointment in exchange for taxpayer-funded health insurance. Like our other welfare programs, Medicaid should be a temporary hand up, not a lifetime benefit for an able-bodied adult.”

“Our programs are on firm financial footing, so instead of dealing with a crisis, we can carefully evaluate how to best use taxpayer money. We are able to ensure Maine’s programs prioritize their intended beneficiaries - our poor children, our elderly and our disabled. This focus will help build a better future for our communities and our state,” said Commissioner Mayhew.

Commissioner Mayhew and DHHS alerted federal officials of specific changes that Maine will be requesting via an 1115b Medicaid waiver in the coming days. The specific requests include:

• Work requirements for able-bodied adults
• Time limits for able-bodied adults
• Asset tests
• Monthly premiums for adults who have the ability to earn income
• Nominal fees for missed appointments

“In planning for Maine’s future, our focus needs to remain fixed on the disabled and elderly in our states. To make serving them properly a reality, we need a commitment from the federal government that we can tailor our program to best serve our state,” said Commissioner Mayhew. “That means allowing us to apply basic guidelines for the able-bodied individuals on our programs to ensure that they are utilizing the program appropriately and that funds are safeguarded for the neediest people in the state. We look forward to working with the Trump Administration on this critical request.”

The letter is linked below.