Weekly Democratic Address by Speaker Mark Eves (N Berwick): LePage plays politics with health care; turning down federal health care dollars is worst deal for Maine people
(Also released today without embargo. ~AP)
We’ve all heard stories about someone in our lives who has struggled to pay for health care when they need it most – perhaps a friend, a family member or a neighbor, or it may even be you.
If you walk into any corner store in Maine, you’re likely to see a tin can on the counter to help raise money for someone’s surgery or health care expenses. We hold bean suppers and community potlucks to cover sick Mainers. We run races and pass the hat to fundraise for those who are sick.
Now, the federal government is offering to help take away the need for those tin cans. It will pay for health care coverage for 70,000 hard working Maine people, who aren’t lucky enough to have jobs that provide health insurance.
But Governor LePage is pushing them away.
It’s a good deal that we can’t pass up: Turning down these federal health care dollars would send the money to other states. That’s why Democratic and Republican Governors across the country have already agreed to expand Medicaid in their states.
Let me make this clear: by not accepting these federal dollars, Governor LePage is making a bad deal — the worst deal — for the people of Maine.
Now. I’m asking you to join me — and nearly 70 percent of Maine people – to urge Governor LePage to accept these federal health care dollars — and stop playing politics with people’s health care.
Any business person would agree: it’s a good deal for Maine. It makes good fiscal sense.
It will help bring health care costs down for EVERYONE.
Maine hospitals are required by law to provide care to people without insurance. Often this care is in the form of expensive emergency room visits that could have been prevented with earlier and less expensive treatment. In the health care industry, this is called charity care.
Charity care costs Maine hospitals $200 million per year – and the costs keep going up.
Hospitals pass these charity care costs to consumers, including the state and individuals and businesses with private insurance — driving up all of our bills.
By accepting federal dollars we can significantly reduce that charity care bill. We will lower the state’s costs for Medicaid by $690 million dollars over the next 10 years, according to non-partisan Kaiser Foundation estimates.
When more people have health care coverage, costs go down for all of us.
If we are truly going to address our hospital debt head on, we should accept these federal dollars. Maine’s hospital debt is a symptom of our high health care costs.
Democrats and Governor LePage agree that we must make the final payment on our state’s debt to hospitals. As we make a final payment on Maine’s hospital debt, Democrats believe we must also address the underlying problem that helped cause the debt.
We can’t just treat the symptom; we have to treat the problem.
By accepting federal funds and covering more Mainers, we do just that. To address only one of these elements would leave the job half done.
Join me in urging Governor LePage to accept federal health care dollars and cover more Maine people. Call the Governor’s Office at 287–3531 and tell him to and stop playing politics with people’s health care.
Thank you for listening; I’m Speaker of the House Mark Eves. Have a wonderful day.