(UPDATED) Maine GOP- Yes, REPUBLICANS!- To Attempt Compromised/ Combined Medicaid Expansion Bill

Posted on February 25, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

(11:45 AM UPDATE) The plan has now been released and as anticipated, it involves combining proposals from Senator Roger Katz and Speaker of the House Mark Eves:

      A key Republican senator on Tuesday will release his proposal to expand the state’s Medicaid program to more than 60,000 low-income Mainers, a move that could reshape a fiercely partisan debate that has raged at the State House for over a year.

      The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, the assistant minority leader, is the result of a six-month effort to build support to expand a publicly funded health insurance program that has traditionally provoked fierce ideological and philosophical opposition among Republicans for its results and costs.

      Lawmakers will take up Katz’s bill before they tackle a separate expansion proposal sponsored by House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.

Katz’s proposal includes a three year “sunset provision”, which he floated out to lawmakers as an amendment during last year’s LD 1066 floor debate. That motion passed the Senate by a 23-12 vote.

Democrats released more information on the proposal and statements from leadership:

    Democratic Leaders Issue Statement on Republican Health Care Expansion Proposal

    AUGUSTA — Top Democratic leaders in the Maine House and Senate issued the following statements in response to a proposal from Senate Republican Leader Senator Roger Katz of Kennebec to accept federal funds to provide healthcare coverage to 70,000 Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans.

    In addition to accepting the federal funds, Sen. Katz’s proposal would:

    • Put in place a plan to reduce the wait list for individuals with intellectual disabilities seeking MaineCare services like home care;
    • Call for managed care to reduce healthcare costs;
    • Fund two new Medicaid fraud investigators in the Attorney General’s office;
    • Conduct a feasibility study to review Arkansas’ and Iowa’s plans to use the federal dollars to purchase private insurance;
    • Include a sunset provision after three years when federal reimbursement reduces to 95 percent and an opt-out provision if the match rate goes below 100 percent during the first three years. 

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash sponsored two separate measures to accept federal funds, and issued the following statements.


    Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson wait before presenting their bills before HHS Committee.

    Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson wait before presenting their bills before HHS Committee.

    “We view the proposal as a step forward after months of debate over how to ensure more families can have access to a family doctor,”  said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Our priority has always been securing life-saving health care for 70,000 Maine people. While we have been skeptical of managed care programs in the past, we look forward to hearing the details of the Republican proposal. We will want to make sure that the emphasis is on quality treatment; not simply denying care.”

    “The people of Maine are counting on us to do right by them. They’ve put their faith and their trust in us and asked us to represent them to the best of our abilities,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “Health care is a right, and lawmakers who get health care from the state should think twice before denying it to their constituents.”

    Senator Katz is expected to present the Republican proposal to the Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday at 3 p.m.



Rumor overnight via Maine Wire about state GOP lawmakers making a move to expand Medicaid seems to be accurate:

Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

A pair of Republican state senators are set to roll out a bill that would expand the state’s Medicaid program, MaineCare — a proposal that so far has been largely opposed by Republican Gov. Paul LePage and rank-and-file members of the party. On Tuesday, state Sen.’s Tom Saviello, R-Wilton and Roger Katz, R-Augusta, will unveil their plan to members of their party during a caucus meeting and then take their pitch to the editorial boards of two of the state’s daily newspapers.

Democrats have also been uncharacteristically quiet about the measure, which would allow the state to accept federal funding to expand the state’s low-income health care system under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But state Sen. Margaret Craven, the Senate chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, said she was setting aside time Wednesday for her committee to hold a public hearing on the measure.

The bill, LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program” was carried over last July and as such, needs a simple majority to pass both chambers. However, it would need 2/3s vote as an emergency bill and to override a veto from Governor LePage, who is vehemently opposed to expansion.

Current thought is that LD 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People”, would be tacked on as an amendment to the bill.

The Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services is scheduled for 3 pm work sessions tomorrow on LDs 1636 and 1663 after the conclusion of the legislative session (audio link here).
The news has garnered some positive and negative reactions among Republicans. Former LePage communications director Dan Demeritt posted on Twitter:

House GOP Communications Director David Sorensen fired off a press release before the senate caucus to media. Here is a portion:

      “Medicaid Mythbusters Round 1”

    Many of those eligible for Medicaid under an expansion would already be eligible for a federal health care subsidy, were they to buy their own health insurance on the private market.

    – The U.S. Congress, “can’t be trusted to sustain its Medicaid funding promises,” suggesting the state would be stuck footing the bill for any health care expansion.

    – An expansion of Medicaid would cause further defunding of existing state government programs including those that help pay for nursing home care.

Sorensen later took to Twitter himself, to share the following slap-down:

View this document on Scribd

So what does all of this mean?

It would finally mean expansion of Medicaid to 70,000 Mainers, which Democrats have tried to do but been unsuccessful both as LD 1546, “An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Hospitals, Increase Access to Health Care and Provide for a New Spirits Contract” , the combination hospital debt payoff- Medicaid expansion- liquor contract bill and as the stand alone bill LD 1066, “An Act To Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding”.

This story is still unfolding and will be updated.

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