Lawmakers in Augusta recently learned that a significant computer problem in the Department of Health and Human Services allowed 19,000 ineligible Mainers to continue receiving health care coverage.

While Gov. Paul LePage’s administration knew about this error back in January, they did not disclose this critical information until late last week.

The LePage administration had information related to the budget and withheld that information until after the budget was passed.

At a time when lawmakers were making hard decisions about health care for thousands of Maine people and critically important health care coverage for the elderly, people with disabilities and children, the Health and Human Services commissioner kept us in the dark about a systems error costing the state millions of dollars.

We should have been told.

During the many weeks of the budget process, Democrats knew numbers weren’t adding up.


We asked questions.

We even asked questions specifically about the DHHS computer system.

But instead of answers, the administration unfairly accused us of dragging our feet. We were even called obstructionists.

Not once did anyone stand up to share this critical information with the very people charged with making budget decisions.

Last week, Mary Mayhew, the Health and Human Services commissioner, addressed the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and acknowledged that perhaps she should have come forward sooner with this information.

How could there ever have been doubt about whether or not to disclose such critical information?


It is our constitutional responsibility to balance the state budget, but we must have accurate information to do that.

We now know that a number of red flags were raised as far back as last June.

Both the state auditor and the Legislature’s fiscal review office reported the spike of 19,000 people on MaineCare.

These red flags were ignored by Commissioner Mayhew.

And, worse, concerns and questions raised by Appropriations Committee Democrats were dismissed.

The incompetence and mismanagement are shameful.


This problem has been characterized by Mayhew as a computer error.

To be clear, this is more than a computer glitch.

It is an affront to the integrity of the budget process.

Now we are left wondering if this is the tip of the iceberg.

What else don’t we know?

How can we have confidence in the department’s information? How can we trust the data. And worse, how can we trust that the department is being truthful?


Asking for and expecting the truth should not be partisan.

Our fellow Republicans must be pondering the same questions.

It is unconscionable that the administration allowed us to pass a budget built on faulty numbers.

It is unconscionable that the elderly and people with disabilities could have been hurt and deprived of critically needed help, like prescription drugs and housing, because this information was withheld from the Appropriations Committee.

The governor is known for drawing parallels between business and government.

Imagine a boardroom where a CEO knowingly withheld critical financial information from its board members.


In this case, we, the taxpayers, must hold the governor and his administration accountable for their secrecy.

And now, on the heels of this significant breech in confidence between the Legislature and the administration, the Appropriations Committee is tasked with working on the governor’s next supplemental budget.

Yet, many questions remain unanswered.

As we work on this new budget, doubt lingers about whether we are receiving the information we need to make sound decisions.

In the last go-round, a judgment call was made to withhold information from us.

Will that happen again?


Questions remain about the quality of the judgment and leadership within this administration.

And so, moving forward, it is our expectation that the administration will deal with the Legislature with transparency and honesty. We must look at creating long-term, balanced solutions.

It is incredibly disappointing that we now need to question whether the LePage administration’s omission was a mistake or by design.

Either way, Maine people deserve better.


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