March 5, 2013

Maine Democrats make case for expansion of Medicaid

The state's Democratic leaders will exert public pressure on Gov. LePage to give up his resistance and follow other Republican governors.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: Access to Medicaid

Should the state of Maine expand access to Medicaid?

Yes

No

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Speaker of the House Mark Eves, D-North Berwick

The Associated Press

Advocates of expansion say it would reduce the number of uninsured Mainers and the amount of uncompensated care that hospitals must provide.

A recent report by the Portland Press Herald showed that cost of uncompensated care by Maine hospitals more than doubled over the last five years, from $94 million to $194 million. The number is even higher when combined with hospitals' other uncollected debts.

Monday's briefing by Maine Equal Justice Partners was a rebuttal to Mary Mayhew, LePage's health and human services commissioner, who last month appeared via video conference to urge Florida lawmakers to reject Medicaid expansion.

Mayhew told them that Maine's decision a decade ago to increase Medicaid eligibility did not live up to expectations. She said it didn't significantly reduce the number of uninsured or the amount of free care that hospitals provide to people who can't afford health insurance.

Mayhew also said that Maine would not expand Medicaid "at this time" because it could not be assured that the federal government would deliver on its funding promises.

Mayhew, a former lobbyist for the Maine Hospital Association, also linked the state's past Medicaid expansion to the delayed Medicaid reimbursement payments to its hospitals.

Mayhew's testimony didn't convince Scott, Florida's governor.

Scott, who campaigned against "Obamacare" en route to his election in 2010, announced shortly after the testimony that he planned to participate in the federal Medicaid expansion program.

Mayhew was expected to reiterate her arguments last week before the Legislature's Appropriations Committee, but the appearance was canceled because of weather.

That committee will hear from the lead lobbyist for the Maine Medical Association on Tuesday. The group represents the state's doctors. 

This story has been corrected to note the date that the Maine Medical Association will appear before lawmakers.

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

On Twitter: @stevemistler

 

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Today's poll: Access to Medicaid

Should the state of Maine expand access to Medicaid?

Yes

No

View Results