It’s time to close the book on the saga of the Alexander Report – what has to be one of the saddest episodes in the history of Maine politics.

When Gov. LePage hand-wrote “Go for it!” on the no-bid contract proposal to pay conservative activist Gary Alexander almost $1 million to write a report assessing Maine’s health care and public assistance programs, he set in motion a tale of rank ideological cronyism, intentionally skewed numbers and blatant plagiarism.

The governor and his staff would later try to distance themselves from the report, and, after it was shown that large sections had been lifted verbatim and uncredited from other sources, LePage even agreed to cancel part of the contract.

He still allowed Alexander and his fellow con artists to walk away with almost half a million dollars, however, arguing that while the report “was poor quality as far as the writing, the punctuation and what we call an academic document,” he had “yet to find anything in the document that’s untrue.”

Even after almost everyone agreed that the report was a sham, LePage still cited its results while vetoing bills to accept federal health care funds, and he still used Alexander’s figures in debates during his re-election campaign to defend his denial of care.

The whole story would almost be comical, if the report hadn’t been used by LePage to justify denying coverage to tens of thousands of Mainers, causing untold suffering and possibly even loss of life.

Now, more a year after the report was first submitted, we finally have a chance to compare Gary Alexander’s projections against actual outcomes, see if his numbers were accurate and determine if his report had any value at all.

WAS ALEXANDER RIGHT?

So was Alexander right about the future of Maine’s health care and public assistance programs?

No. He wasn’t even close.

We obviously don’t know what might have happened if Maine had accepted federal funding and expanded health care coverage. But we can look at Alexander’s projections for what would happen in a non-expansion scenario, compare them to budget numbers that state Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew just presented to the Health and Human Services Committee and see how they stack up.

In short, every single major prediction that Alexander made has been proven wrong.

 The report claimed that federal matching funds would decline. In fact, they went up this year and are projected to go up again in 2016 and 2017. This would have made accepting federal funding an even better deal.

 The report claimed that MaineCare spending would increase by 5.5 percent annually. Wrong again. Spending actually went down about 1 percent last year and is expected to increase by only about 1 percent this year.

 The report claimed that enrollment in MaineCare would increase by 2.5 percent annually. Not even close. Because of a combination of LePage’s cuts to coverage and a slowly improving economy (both of which were well underway when the report was written), enrollment is actually down more than 17 percent since 2012.

In short, it’s now clear that in an attempt to manufacture a false price tag for health care expansion, Alexander used assumptions that were so far off base that his projections look utterly ridiculous even just one year later.

He obviously intentionally used the worst scenarios he could imagine and willfully ignored the financial benefits of expansion in order to justify denying health care coverage to 70,000 Mainers.

WHAT DOES IT MATTER NOW?

LePage vetoed MaineCare expansion five times despite knowing the economic and human costs. He then ran on his actions and won re-election. It’s not likely that he’ll suddenly change his mind now and allow health care expansion. So, in practical terms, the fact that Alexander’s report is complete garbage had little real effect on state policy. In fact, the contract for the report was so shoddily written that LePage probably couldn’t even get the money we paid to Alexander back if he wanted to.

It’s still important to point out that the report was a complete con job, however, if only because Alexander’s snake oil is still seeping its way into our state health care debate. For example, during her testimony last month, Commissioner Mayhew continued to cite the false claim from the report that expansion would have cost the state $800 million over 10 years, a figure based on Alexander’s ridiculous projections.

I don’t expect the LePage administration to apologize for commissioning this travesty of a report, but the least they could do now is stop repeating its lies.

Mike Tipping is a political junkie who works for the Maine People’s Alliance. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @miketipping