Gov. LePage Vetoes Maine Medicaid Expansion

Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013 01:17 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Maine's Medicaid expansion program has been shelved following a veto by Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

The governor vetoed the measure despite the House and Senate passing it last week, by votes of 97-51 and 23-12, respectively, The Bangor Daily News reported.

The votes, however, were not enough for the two-thirds needed to override LePage's veto. Still, Democrats hope to convince enough Republicans to join them in a future vote to move ahead with the expansion, which is a key part of Obamacare.

LePage explained his veto by saying a previous state expansion of Medicaid had been unsuccessful and incredibly costly.

"Maine ran up massive debts to our hospitals as the system outgrew the taxpayers' ability to pay," he wrote in his veto message.

"At the same time, the uninsured population remained almost the same: 136,000 in 2001 to 133,000 in 2011.

"The only change was thousands upon thousands of Mainers leaving the commercial market for 'free' healthcare, expanding the welfare rolls from nearly 200,000 to 338,000."

Maine is currently $484 million in debt to hospitals across the state.

The Daily News said LePage also warned lawmakers against the federal government's vow to pay most of the costs of the Medicaid expansion in the future.

The veto came as Jan Brewer, Arizona's Republican governor, inked a law to expand Medicaid in the Grand Canyon State.

Brewer's embrace of the expansion will make 300,000 more poor and disabled residents eligible for Medicaid. Arizona is the 24th state so far to approve expansion.

Under Obamacare, states that accept the expansion program will have 100 percent of Medicaid costs paid for by the federal government during the first three years. The payments will be reduced 10 percent after that.

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