April 11, 2013

Maine Voices: Federal money to expand MaineCare comes with high costs

Anyone who thinks this deal is ‘free’ hasn’t looked at the numbers, or how to serve the most needy.

By HEATHER SIROCKI Special to the Press Herald

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With the national debt closing in on $17 trillion and climbing at warp speed, the day will come when Washington needs to get deadly serious about spending cuts, lest we go bankrupt. Does anyone really believe the feds will continue funding 90 percent of the Medicaid expansion, in perpetuity, after the first three years?

Furthermore, let’s look at neighboring New Hampshire. As of last January, New Hampshire had 9 percent of its population, about 130,000 people, enrolled in Medicaid. Maine has 26 percent, or about 338,000 people, on MaineCare.

The total proposed expansion would propel Maine to almost 440,000 people, or about 33 percent of our population. One in every three Mainers would be enrolled in this no co-pay, taxpayer-funded health insurance program.

I will limit my reasons to those already noted in this column to explain why it is difficult for me to justify the further expansion of Maine’s already expansive Medicaid program.

Our finite resources need to be prioritized. This costly expansion would certainly make it more difficult to balance the budget while trying to serve the highly needy individuals who are waiting on our shamefully long waiting lists.

State Rep. Heather Sirocki, R-Scarborough, serves on the Health and Human Services Committee.


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