January 16

Maine Medicaid expansion prospects brighten, Democrats say

Supporters say new, developing compromises may draw enough additional Republican votes to override a veto by Gov. LePage.

By Joe Lawlor jlawlor@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Paula Sutton of Warren testifies against Medicaid expansion Wednesday before the Maine Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.

Joe Lawlor/Staff Writer

“We need a MaineCare program that is not reeling from one financial crisis to the next. We need a MaineCare program that looks to the future,” Mayhew said, referring to the state’s version of Medicaid.

Numerous legislators, residents, advocacy groups and trade association representatives testified Wednesday morning.

Jeff Austin, representing the Maine Hospital Association, spoke in support of the expansion, noting that the federal government has reduced reimbursements to hospitals with the expectation that states will expand Medicaid.

Expanded Medicaid eligibility would provide more paying patients and reduce the number of patients who receive hospital-funded “charity care.”

Many spoke on behalf of the 70,000 to 100,000 low-income Mainers who would gain insurance under the expansion.

Gina Melaragno of Auburn said she lived for four years, in the Channel Islands, where the health care system for low-income residents is much more generous. Coming back to Maine, working a job that doesn’t provide health insurance, she has noticed the difference, especially when prescriptions cost her $250 per month.

But others said that residents should take more personal responsibility for their health care.

Paula Sutton of Warren said she pays a lot for health insurance, while free Medicaid benefits encourage government dependency.

“Health care starts at home, not in Augusta,” Sutton said. “Where do the feds get their money from (for Medicaid)? They get it from you and me.”

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

jlawlor@pressherald.com

Twitter: @joelawlorph

 

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