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Governor’s Address: Congress should stick to its promises on ObamaCare

After saying for eight years they would repeal and replace ObamaCare, many politicians in Congress are now focused on doing just that.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

I went to Washington for one reason: to advocate for the Maine people. Unfortunately, an element of the highly paid career politicians down there are focused more on getting re-elected than truly reforming our health care system.

My goal is not to increase government spending on entitlements. I am fighting for an accountable and affordable Medicaid program that provides a strong safety net for our elderly, disabled, women and children and those who are unable to buy insurance.

Over the last six years, we have made significant reforms to rein in out-of-control Medicaid spending and ensure we are caring for our most needy. We reduced the size of our waitlists for severely disabled people, increased funding for Maine’s nursing homes and cut taxes. But all that could change.

Republicans in Congress have been telling the American people for years that they will repeal and replace ObamaCare with a conservative, free-market alternative. However, the early signs do not look promising.

The only voice who can influence the outcome is yours. I am asking you to contact Maine’s Congressional Delegation—Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Bruce Poliquin and Chellie Pingree.

First, the bill should freeze ObamaCare’s welfare expansion. Maine expanded its Medicaid program 15 years ago, and we paid a hefty price. It doubled the size and cost of our Medicaid program, but we saw no improvement to our state’s uninsured rate, uncompensated care for hospitals or the emergency room utilization. The only thing we got was a $750 million debt to our hospitals.

The proposed healthcare bill allows states to expand Medicaid until 2020. In Maine, it would mean that an estimated 100,000 people would get essentially “free” health care. Expanding this entitlement to people who do not have children and have the ability to work would mean large tax increases and cuts at the expense of our most vulnerable elderly and disabled citizens.

“Free” is not free; it is always very expensive to somebody.

Second, we must be firm in our commitment to help those who want to become more financially stable and independent. If individuals want to receive these taxpayer-funded benefits, they must have some skin in the game.

It should be mandatory that Medicaid programs include work requirements, asset tests, copays, premium contributions and fees for missed appointments. This type of accountability will teach recipients how to contribute to their health care, and it will reduce waste and abuse of the program.

It is vital that our Maine delegation hear from you. If you want a strong safety net for our most needy and vulnerable people, tell them you want Medicaid prioritized for our elderly, disabled, women and children. Tell them the federal government should not force expansion on states that are already making strides in welfare reform, and encourage them to support a work requirement for able-bodied people on Medicaid.

Politicians will only consider what is best for Mainers if they hear directly from you. I will continue to fight on your behalf as your Governor, but it is you, the people, who have the real power.

Thank You,

Paul R. LePage

Governor

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