Archive for May 18th, 2013

Weekly Democratic Address by Rep Linda Sanborn (Gorham): Governor LePage Should Sign Our Comprehensive Plan to Pay Maine’s Hospitals

Posted on May 18, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Audio link here.

linda sanbornIn the coming days, the state of Maine has an opportunity to pay back the debt owed to our hospitals and contain the rising costs of health care for our people and hospitals.

The Legislature will be sending Governor Paul LePage a bill to pay back Maine’s hospitals and to accept federal health care dollars to cover nearly 70,000 Maine people.

It’s an offer he shouldn’t refuse.

Good morning, I’m Representative Linda Sanborn – a retired family physician from Gorham.

Democrats have put forward a comprehensive plan that not only pays the debt; we make sure we don’t get back here in the future.

Maine’s hospital debt is a symptom of our high health care costs.

As a family physician, I can tell you first hand that when people without insurance get sick, they often end up getting care in the emergency room — where it is most costly. The cost of that care is often picked up by hospitals in the form of “charity care” and then passed on to anyone with private insurance.

By accepting federal health care dollars to cover more Maine families we reduce the charity care and bad debt that costs Maine hospitals $450 million dollars last year alone.

To do one without the other, would leave the job half done.

Our plan pays the debt and helps fix the underlying problem that contributes to high healthcare costs in the first place. We don’t just treat the symptom; we treat the problem.

The federal government has agreed to fully cover the cost for health care tens of thousands of Mainers for the next three years, and gradually lowers its payment to no less than 90 percent of the cost over a decade. There is no cost to the state — in fact we will save money. Maine is projected to save $690 million in the next 10 years if it accepts the federal dollars, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation.

This could change the lives of tens of thousands of Maine people who fear getting sick because they can’t afford to see a doctor when they need it most.

Take Marie from Bangor. She has a part-time job that doesn’t provide health insurance. She also has a serious heart condition that doesn’t allow her to work full time. Without health insurance for her or her family, she is forced to choose between putting gas in her car or paying her medical and utility bills.

Or, Patty Kidder of Sanford and her husband lost their health care coverage, like so many Mainers, when her husband lost his job at Spencer Press during the recession. Or, Tom Ptacek a U.S. Navy Veteran who works part time and has a non-service related problem that the VA doesn’t cover.

Marie, Patty, and Tom were among the many who urged lawmakers to pass this bill.

Unfortunately, they are not alone. This is a reality for tens of thousands of Mainers who are unable to afford health insurance.

Accepting these federal funds to increase health care coverage for more working Mainers is the right thing to. And it makes sense to do it as part of a comprehensive package that repays Maine’s hospital debt. It both addresses the costs of health care for our hospitals and our people.

It’s a good deal. That’s why Republican governors across the country have taken the funds.

Governor LePage has a choice to make: Will he support a plan that pays the hospitals and accepts federal health care dollars to cover more Mainers? Or will he retreat into an ideological corner, putting politics ahead of the people’s health?

People’s lives are on the line. Now is the time to act.

Thank you for listening. I’m Rep. Linda Sanborn.

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Weekly Address of Governor LePage: Government Shutdown Is Up to Legislature, Not Me

Posted on May 18, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Audio link here.

lepage head 2My fellow Mainers, there are two things you should know about a government shutdown. First, I have no plans for a shutdown. And second, a shutdown is not up to me. It’s up to the legislature.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

The majority party in Augusta has been busy distracting you from the real issues. But time is running out, and they have yet to pass a budget.

The so-called Gang of 11 has proposed a sleight-of-hand plan that gives with one hand and takes with the other. It does not cut one dime of state spending; it does not limit the size of government; and it does not reform how we do business. This plan simply lets legislators avoid making tough decisions and paves the way for more taxing and more spending in the next budget.

Another plan, which is incorrectly called a “tax fairness” bill, recycles a bogus talking point in Maine: “Tax the rich.” This plan to punish successful Mainers by taking more of their money wouldn’t raise enough to fund the wasteful Legislative budget. I guess there aren’t enough rich people left in Maine to tax.

Folks, this is getting ridiculous. More than four months have passed since I proposed a balanced budget. My budget is not tied to any other complicated issues, and it does not raise taxes on Mainers. I examined the revenue we have available, and I proposed a budget that fits within that revenue. We simply cannot spend beyond our means.

But Democratic leadership still wants to spend, spend, spend — regardless of how much revenue we have. They are fighting to make sure government keeps growing and growing, no matter how many taxes they have to raise to pay for it.

Just like my balanced budget, more than four months have passed since I proposed a plan to pay the half-a-billion dollars the state owes our hospitals. This plan would inject 700-million-dollars into Maine’s economy, and it would secure a liquor contract that would bring tens of millions of dollars back to Maine every year.

But Democratic leadership won’t let legislators vote on this plan. They’d rather approve their own complicated scheme that could cost Mainers at least 100-million-dollars per biennium.
After four months of delays and distractions, it seems that legislators in Augusta have ordered a shutdown on common sense. They are working overtime to avoid a simple reality: Maine does not have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem. Our government is too big and too expensive, and it is getting bigger every year.

When I put together my budget, I had to make the tough choices to make sure it was balanced. This was an unpleasant task. I’ve been a mayor. I know what challenges towns and cities are facing. But as mayor, I was able to reduce property taxes and decrease the size of local government without cutting services. It can be done.

Raising taxes is not the only answer. It’s a choice. You can choose to make the difficult decisions and live within your means. Or you can choose to let government grow and raise taxes to pay for it.

When legislators propose their various budget plans, they are thinking of just one thing: government. But when I created my balanced-budget proposal, I wasn’t thinking about lobbyists or special interests or the next election. I was thinking of just one thing: you, the Maine taxpayer.

We will never lift the burden off the Maine taxpayer until we face reality and make the tough choices. But legislators would rather pass a budget that raises taxes than make the right choice for Mainers.

I have no plans to shut down government. But I cannot speak for legislators or why the state employees’ union is threatening a government shutdown. We cannot operate government without the revenue to pay for it. Therefore, legislators must agree on a budget.

I’ve done the hard work, and I’ve made the tough choices. I’ve done my job. Now it’s time for legislators to do theirs.

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