Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Maine has an Obligation to Help Our Most Vulnerable and Pay its Bills

Posted on January 15, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Audio link here.

    Maine has an Obligation to Help Our Most Vulnerable and Pay its Bills

Welfare expansion will cost Maine more than $800 million dollars over the first 10 years. That’s worth saying again. Over the next decade, if Maine expanded welfare, it will cost taxpayers more than $800 million dollars.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

lepage officeWhile liberals are busy blasting me and the Administration about hiring a consultant to analyze whether we should expand Maine’s Medicaid program, the reality is the report provides a road map to save taxpayers money and improve services for the truly needy.

This week our Administration provided Mainers and lawmakers The Feasibility of Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act. If Maine opts to expand Medicaid as it did 10 years ago, the report estimates it will cost the state more than $800 million—and that’s without additional risk factors. It does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be shifted onto the middle class who buy their insurance. This will cause private insurance premiums skyrocket.

When risks like the poverty rate and costs of care are taken into consideration, Maine could pay up to $3.2 billion over 10 years.

History does repeat itself, as you well know, we just paid off the hospital debt from the 2002 expansion.

Maine already has the third-highest spending on Medicaid in the nation. Expanding is not affordable.

The report also predicts between 31 and 36 percent of all Mainers will be receiving taxpayer-funded health care by 2023. In other words, for every three Mainers, one will be on Medicaid at the taxpayer’s expense.

Today, Maine’s welfare program is not financially solvent. Last week, I alerted legislative leadership of a major shortfall in the budget. The culprit? The Medicaid program. There is a multimillion-dollar shortfall for several reasons, including a rise in the use of services and increasing health care costs. Like everything else, prices are going up and health care is no exception.

I do not want to see Maine falling behind in paying its bills again. It was a battle with liberals for three years to get them to do the right thing and finally pay 750 million dollars to Maine’s hospitals. The state had an obligation to pay its welfare bills. And we have an obligation to continue to pay them.

I talk frequently about fiscal responsibility, but as important is the quality of care provided by our welfare programs.

Medicaid is supposed to help our most vulnerable citizens – the children, elderly, disabled and mentally ill. However, there are thousands of Mainers on waitlists who need health care services.

We have nursing homes on the brink of closing due to below cost reimbursement rates.

We also know of many vulnerable people who would like home and community-based health care services, but they are denied because funding is not available. If this care was available to them, it would cost the state less than current services.

Our Administration wants a welfare system that works for Maine people. Mainers deserve a safety net that provides quality and accessible care. That’s why we are striving to gain greater flexibility from the federal government to improve services for those who need it most.

The funny thing is that the guy who wrote the report has been very successful in getting the federal government to work with states on improving its Medicaid program. So, why aren’t liberals listening to what he has to say?

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