Tuesday July 10, 2012 | 02:51 PM

Bloomberg columnist Josh Barro has an interesting take on Gov. Paul LePage's radio address, and no, it has nothing to do with the controversy the governor ignited by comparing the IRS to the Nazi secret police force.

Barro notes that LePage didn't use the radio address to say Maine would not participate in the Medicaid expansion proposed in the federal health care law. That's true, and it's consistent with what the administration told the Press Herald in a recent report about the whether Maine will spurn the federal government's offer to pay for the majority of the expansion.

But Barro expounds on a few more points:

"The likely reason for LePage's reservation of judgment? The Medicaid expansion won't cost Maine's state government a dime -- in fact, it should save the state somewhere between $65 million and $118 million over six years, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

That's because Maine already offers Medicaid to many of the people who are set to get it under the new law's expansion. As such, it won't sign up as many new members as in other states, and it will start getting a more generous federal match for the people it already covers."

Barro adds that "expanded Medicaid is popular, and though LePage enjoys a Republican majority in both houses of his legislature, that majority is narrow and fractious. He probably couldn't shrink Medicaid eligibility if he wanted to."

Barro predicted that even states like Texas that have already said they'll reject the Medicaid money will eventually come around.

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Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.

Steve can be reached at 791-6345 or smistler@pressherald.com.
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