Saturday, April 19, 2014
Last week, actions by Maine legislators and Governor LePage make it likely that two issues critically important to Maine families will be decided soon and separately.
First, our state government will decide if 39 Maine hospitals will finally be paid the $484 million they are owed for services already provided to Maine’s huge number of Medicaid recipients.
Maine hospitals employ 30,000 workers with mostly good-paying jobs including benefits. Hospitals have been laying-off employees, freezing salaries, and postponing the purchase of new equipment to treat patients because the state has not paid back this enormous debt.
Second, Augusta will decide if our Medicaid program will further expand to include 70,000 able-bodied and mostly single male under the age of 45.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) projects this second round of medical welfare expansion will cost Maine taxpayers $400 million over the first 10 years. MaineCare already enrolls approximately 341,000 fellow residents, 27 percent of our entire population – the third-highest state enrollment rate in the country. MaineCare tax dollars are spread so thin among so many citizens that roughly 3,100 disabled and elderly Mainers are on waiting lists to receive the health care services they desperately need.
Maine families pay among the highest taxes in the nation, in part, to fund this behemoth health care welfare program. Annual Medicaid expenses exceed $700 million, consuming 24% of the entire state budget. The cost of Medicaid benefits is increasingly crowding out adequate funding for road and bridge repair, public safety, law enforcement, and education for our children.
Bruce Poliquin is the former Maine State Treasurer and a 2012 Republican primary candidate for the United States Senate. He has 35 years of experience owning and managing businesses. Bruce is a proud third-generation Franco-American Mainer and Harvard University graduate. Visit BrucePoliquin.net for his most recent commentary and analysis on media outlets throughout the State about the important issues facing Maine families and their jobs.