April 30, 2013

Payment to Maine hospitals slowed?

Lawmakers' linking of debt payment and Medicaid expansion could delay repayment of millions owed, a lobbyist says.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

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click image to enlarge

In this file photo, Linda Farley and Sharon Wallace care for a patient at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Democratic lawmakers want to combine a decision on Medicaid expansion with a proposal to pay a $186 million debt to hospitals.

Staff Photo by Herb Swanson

Democrats at first opposed the governor's effort to link liquor revenue with the hospital payment. LePage also has linked the hospital payment to the release more than $100 million in voter-approved bonds.

"Every day, the governor comes out with, from my perspective, very, very controversial ideas and some of them are linked to other things. Some of them are separate items," Alfond said. "We have deal with each one of them, roll up our sleeves and get the work done for the state of Maine."

LePage has said he is opposed to expanding Medicaid, but he engaged the federal government in talks on the issue after a number of Republican governors in other states said they were open to it.

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation has projected that Maine will save $690 million in the next 10 years if it accepts federal dollars under the Affordable Care Act to provide care to approximately 55,000 Mainers.

But Republican legislators have been wary of expansion. House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, said the timing of Democrats' proposal is troubling.

"Any attempt to couple Medicaid expansion with repayment of the hospitals simply will not happen in the next eight weeks," he said, referring to the end of the legislative session in June. "We're putting the repayment of the hospitals at risk."


Michael Shepherd can be reached at 370-7652 or at:


Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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