Advocates insist that Medicaid expansion will have beneficial economic and budget consequences for Maine, and a lot of voters bought the argument. But Moody’s credit research service has issued a report that says the expansion is likely to have a very different effect on the state’s budget. That’s because the Medicaid free lunch won’t last forever.

Here’s the question: Even with a lot of help from the feds, how is Maine supposed to pay for free health care for 25 percent of its population, including the large expansion group, which has a lot of healthy, working-age individuals with incomes above the poverty line, and still have enough money to pay for all the other things voters say are important? Gov. LePage is right to insist that the Legislature answer the question, even if the Press Herald’s editorial page wants to ignore it (Our View, Nov. 9).

David Farmer at Mainers for Health Care points to studies that show that expansion has been positive for state budgets. Of course it has. If you pour enough federal dollars into the states, and pretend that there is no effect on the federal budget or local taxpayers, the short-term results will look good. This is largely because the expansion states only began paying their share of the cost this year, and won’t pay their full 10 percent share until 2020.

After that, what are now net benefits will likely become significant net expenses. This is what the warning by Moody’s is about.

Gov. LePage also is correct that the enactment of good intentions, without adequate consideration of where the money comes from, is irresponsible. This is one of the risks of making public policy with referendums.

Martin Jones

Freeport