Saturday, March 8, 2014
Gary Alexander, the disputed welfare reformer from Rhode Island, will present the Medicaid feasibility portion of his $925,000 taxpayer-funded study to Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.
The Democratic co-chairs of the committee had previously asked Alexander to brief the committee. Then, after Alexander presented his report on Friday, the committee analyst sent a notice stating that his appearance was canceled by Democratic co-chairs, Rep. Richard Farnsworth, D-Portland, Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston. The cancellation triggered a swift response from Republicans, who claimed that Democrats were so unnerved by Alexander's findings that they were attempting muzzle him.
"Now the Democrats are suddenly saying they don't want live testimony, and that the written report will do," said Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, in a statement released Saturday. "I don't know if it's because the results of the study make it inconvenient to conduct their usual publicity stunt or because they just don't want to hear information that contradicts their desired outcome, but it's wrong either way."
On Sunday, Farnsworth and Craven released a statement saying uninviting Alexander was a mistake and done "in haste." They said they were under the impression that Alexander would present his report Wednesday during the public hearing on a bill that would expand Medicaid.
"This decision should have been more carefully vetted," they wrote. "Legislative leadership has since urged us to put Mr. Alexander back on Tuesday's agenda and we have done so."
Click here to listen to this week's WGAN interview about Alexander's report and this week's State House Notebook.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.