Potential 2014 Dem Candidate Gov. John Baldacci Addresses Misleading LePage TV Ad (Video; Text)

Posted on April 8, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Former Maine governor and potential 2014 gubernatorial opponent Governor John Baldacci was the focus of a surprisingly very early released Paul LePage television ad last Thursday:

Via PPH:

    A political organization that backs Gov. Paul LePage has released a statewide television ad urging lawmakers to back the governor’s plan to repay $484 million in backlogged Medicaid payments to Maine’s hospitals.

    The ad also takes a swipe at former Gov. John Baldacci, who has expressed interest in running for governor in 2014. The ad, purchased by Maine People Before Politics, says Baldacci is responsible for the debt, which it claims caused layoffs and jeopardized health care for “seniors and families.”

    settle2The Medicaid debt began accumulating years before Baldacci took office in 2003. It has been attributed to a payment system that didn’t keep pace with hospitals’ Medicaid claims to the state. Baldacci and the Legislature made payments that sent $3.7 billion to hospitals over the last decade, but not enough to erase the debt.

Within hours, the Baldacci camp sent out a press release which read in part:

    Gov. LePage prefers to fight rather than govern. There’s bipartisan agreement on the need to repay the hospitals, but the governor can’t take ‘yes’ for an answer,”
    Gov. Baldacci said. “The governor should be focused on the state budget, where his plans would raise property taxes, cut education and hurt the economy. It’s so bad, Republicans can’t support it as it is.”

    “This type of partisanship and attack politics might get Gov. LePage’s base excited, but it’s no way to govern,” Gov. Baldacci said. “During eight years in office, meeting the state’s obligations to its hospitals was one of my highest priorities. We worked at the problem in a bipartisan way and put the best interests of the state ahead of politics.”

    “At the height of the worst recession since the Great Depression, Democrats and Republicans came together on a bipartisan plan that put the hospitals first in line,” Baldacci said. “We did it to ensure that Maine people would have access to the care they needed and to prevent hospital layoffs. And then, in that same spirit of bipartisan cooperation, we implemented payment reform. We adopted a pay-as-you-go system that’s in place today.”

    “Gov. LePage and his political organization have sunk to these political attacks in a desperate attempt to avoid talking about his failed budget,” Gov. Baldacci said. “With a massive tax shift to towns and cities, with cuts to education and health care, Gov. LePage has proposed a devastating. For eight years, I worked across the aisle to build bipartisan support for the state budget. LePage has managed something a little different: He’s united Democrats, Republicans and Independents in opposition to his ideas.”

Governor Baldacci then held a media availability opportunity the following morning at Husson’s Gracie Theatre, following the governor participating in a forum on fixing the national debt. Below is video and transcription of my quick interview.

    Me: I was wondering if you might want to expand upon the press release you put out yesterday, in regards to was that your administration was able to accomplish on working on the hospital debt, and if you would want to expand on that.

    Governor Baldacci: Well, the only comments that I was making was that the ad that is on television is completely inaccurate and the fact is that we didn’t walk away from our hospital debt.

    We, in fact, had an agreement with the Maine Hospital Association that we would pay down the debt and was bipartisanly agreed to by the legislature, and as a matter of fact, $473 million dollars we paid down in terms of settlement debt in my administration and we worked bipartisanly with the Maine Hospital Association to get that approved.

    And the other point was that no one was ever denied access to health care because of hospital financing. It was never brought to my attention and if there are cases of it, it would be news to me.

    photoSo it is wrong on both points, but more importantly, it’s a red herring, because it’s diverting attention away from the budget that Governor LePage introduced, that cuts reimbursements to communities, raises property taxes on working families and small businesses, cuts aid to education and also it hurts teacher retirements and their pensions, that they worked their whole lives for.

    The issues- those are the issues. That’s where the focus needs to be.
    It’s not on issues that everybody agrees on, never been dealt with as part of history, you know; if he wants to rewrite history or not, that’s up to him. I don’t want to waste my time with that stuff. I want to focus on what the real issues are and the real issues are what his budget does with shifting $400 million dollars in property tax increases, breaking commitments to revenue sharing, breaking commitments to teachers and their retirement.

    We were able to honor those commitments and not raise taxes and still address issues of hospital debt and deficit. And I think that he should not be pointing fingers, because, my father always said that “when you point a finger, you have three pointing back at you”. So I think he has a lot to answer for.

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