Maine Senate Passes Initial Medicaid Expansion Bill LD 1066, 23-12

Posted on June 11, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Last week, the Maine Senate voted 23-12 on LD 1066 “An Act To Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding” which would expand healthcare coverage to nearly 70,000 low-income and working Mainers. Assistant Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) added a “sunset provision” amendment of three years to the bill, which was supported by himself and fellow Republican Senators Pat Flood (Kennebec) Tom Saviello (Franklin).

Earlier he expressed support for a stand alone version of Medicaid expansion, as did Senator Brian Langley (Hancock) and Pat Flood (Kennebec).

Many of the GOP caucus rose to speak in opposition, including Minority Leader Senator Mike Thibodeau (Waldo).

Senator Doug Thomas (Somerset)

Senator James Hamper (Oxford)

Senator Garrett Mason (Androscoggin)

Senator David Burns (Washington)

Senator Andre Cushing (Penobscot)

Democrats stood together and supported the now stand alone measure, as they had LD 1546 a few weeks ago.

“People’s lives are on the line. We must put politics aside and do what is right for the people of Maine,” said Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall of Richmond (VIDEO). “We cannot be siloed in one belief or another. When you need health care you are not thinking about political party lines, you are trying to do what’s best for your health. We have an opportunity to get it done and help Maine people.”

“Building a strong economy and a strong middle class means making sure people have the health care they need, when they need it, at an affordable cost,” said Senator Geoff Gratwick of Bangor who is a practicing physician. “Accepting federal funds will strengthen Maine’s economy and provide health coverage to thousands of hard-working Mainers.”

“My philosophy is that everyone should have health insurance,” said Assistant Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash (VIDEO). “If I wasn’t serving in this chamber, I would be one of the people covered under this act. I assure you I am able bodied, but without health insurance I would be 100% ruined at this point. The last operation I had cost more than $120,000. I won’t make that much money in six years. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have health insurance.”

Governor LePage’s office was quick to release a statement:

    “I will not entertain any discussions about welfare expansion until these 3,100 disabled and elderly Mainers are taken care of,” the Governor said. “The Legislature has ignored the needs of these citizens for years, but now the Democrats want to expand welfare to able-bodied adults with no children. Not only is that bad public policy, it’s a disgrace.”

    The Governor said his administration is still in negotiations with the federal government to get waivers that would allow the state to fix fraud and abuse within Maine’s welfare system. Welfare expansion would cost Maine millions of dollars annually if fraud and abuse in the existing system is not addressed.

    “Until we crack down on the fraud and abuse that robs hard-working Mainers of their tax dollars, I will not discuss any efforts to expand welfare,” the Governor said. “We do not need to burden hard-working taxpayers with additional costs for those who are not disabled. The Democrats have to stop discriminating against the disabled and elderly and treat them fairly.”

The House will take up the bill later this week.

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