Weekly Democratic Address by Rep. Drew Gattine (Westbrook): URGE GOVERNOR TO ACCEPT FEDERAL HEALTH CARE DOLLARS

Posted on June 1, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Audio link here.

drew gattineWhen I’m out and about in my community, I meet a lot of hard-working Maine people – Mainers who put in an honest day’s work every day but can’t afford health insurance. This week, Maine got more great news about how 70,000 of our friends and neighbors can gain the security of health care coverage.

Good morning. I’m Representative Drew Gattine of Westbrook.

I’d like to talk to you about an amazing opportunity.

If we accept federal health care dollars under the Affordable Care Act, tens of thousands of working Mainers can have health insurance – at no cost to the state.

A lot of Maine communities are like Westbrook. Many folks have been hit hard by the Great Recession. They work hard but they don’t have jobs that provide insurance.

They can’t afford thousands of dollars for premiums, deductibles and co-pays. They certainly can’t afford to get sick. Doctor’s appointments and prescriptions mean there’s even less in the household budget for rent, groceries and fuel.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Maine can accept the federal government’s offer. And the time to act is now.

The federal government has agreed to pay 100 percent of the costs for three years. The feds expect that over ten years its average share will be over 94 percent.

This week, Gov. LePage received a letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid that once again confirms this great deal. But the governor keeps looking for excuses to reject this offer.

Democrats have already passed a bill that would complete the final debt payment to hospitals, prevent hospital costs from spiraling out of control and cover more Maine working families. It was a comprehensive solution.

The governor vetoed it.

In the past several months, Maine has received five different letters from the federal government. They all say that the state just needs to fill out some paperwork to secure 100 percent of funding for 70,000 Maine people.

You should know that the federal government has never missed a Medicaid payment to Maine. Not once in the 48 years we’ve had the program.

We can’t afford to delay. This offer does expire. We face a deadline of January 1, and there’s work to be done before then.

There are so many reasons that Maine should act.

First of all, it’s the right thing to do by working Maine families who deserve a family doctor.

It’s also good for Maine business. This deal will inject $250 million into our economy and create 3,100 new jobs.

Hospitals are big winners. They’ll get additional money to offset the free care they now provide – $163 million each year. Maine hospitals spend more than twice that amount in charity care and bad debt annually. These costs are passed on to all consumers.

Maine would save $690 million over the next decade if it accepts these federal dollars. That’s according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation.

States all over the country are seizing this opportunity. Maine is the sole New England state that isn’t helping its people with this deal.

In the West, states like California, Oregon and Washington are doing the right thing. In the Midwest, it’s states like Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota. In the South, there’s Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida.

There are states with Democratic governors like New York and states with Republican governors like New Jersey.

The list goes on and on. So why are these states helping their folks get insurance while Maine isn’t?

Urge this administration to do the right thing. Tell the governor we don’t want any more excuses.

This is Representative Drew Gattine. Thank you for listening.

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