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Governor’s Address: Tell the Legislature to Put Their Medicaid Expansion Funding Plan in Writing

It’s been 100 days since voters passed the referendum to expand Medicaid. So far, the legislature has done nothing to fund it.

Mainers who voted for Medicaid expansion are waiting to see signs of its implementation. But, as I have told the Legislature repeatedly, I cannot implement it without funding.

Medicaid expansion is the law, and I will execute the law. However, funding it is the Legislature’s constitutional duty. Folks, they have no idea how to fund it.

DHHS cannot hire and train the additional 105 staff needed to run the expanded Medicaid program without money. We cannot pay the state’s share of the new enrollees’ medical bills without funding.

It’s like the Legislature telling me to go to the store and buy the weekly groceries, but they won’t give me any money. The time to appropriate the money is now – not after the next election.

So I laid out four basic principles to guide them on how to pay for expansion.

We must fund Medicaid expansion in a way that is sustainable and ongoing. I will not jeopardize the state’s long-term fiscal health. We must avoid the budget disasters of the past.

I laid out my principles in early December, just a few weeks after the vote, to make sure that the Legislature would know what they would need to do. They are simple and straightforward: 1. No tax increases on Maine families or businesses; 2. No use of the Budget Stabilization Fund, which we call the “Rainy Day Fund”; 3. No use of other one-time funding mechanisms – known as budget gimmicks; 4. Full funding for vulnerable Mainers who are still waiting for services; and 5. No reduction of services or funding for our nursing homes or people with disabilities.

It would be fiscally irresponsible for the Legislature to demand we implement Medicaid expansion without adequate funding. It is simply not too much to ask the Legislature to prioritize our truly needy over those looking for a taxpayer-funded handout.

Democrats, hospitals, advocacy groups, and wealthy out-of-state special interests who campaigned for this referendum claim that adding 80,000 people to a taxpayer-funded entitlement program will save money.

So I am taking them at their word. Show me the savings. Show me how you will fund Medicaid expansion – and put your plan in writing. Show the Maine people how you will carry this out.

The Maine people should not have to wait until the next election has passed to learn how the Legislature is going to pay for expansion. Liberals want me to leave office so they can pass a tax increase or rob the rainy day fund without having to face the voters. That is the coward’s way out.

Demand to see the plan. Hold their feet to the fire. You know I will.

Thank you.

Paul LePage

Governor

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