Weekly Democratic Address by Senator Chris Johnson (Lincoln): LePage Should Sign Expansion; Improve, Perhaps Save Lives

Posted on March 15, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Audio link here.

    DEMOCRATIC RADIO ADDRESS

    Johnson says, “Governor should sign expansion for the tens of thousands of Mainers whose lives will be improved, will be healthier, and perhaps even be saved.”

chris johnsonGood morning, this is State Senator Chris Johnson of Somerville. For the better part of a year there’s been considerable debate about whether or not Maine should join twenty-six other states in expanding health care to nearly 70,000 people in Maine.

Throughout this year-long debate, support for expansion has been strong. As a matter of fact, as of last week, a poll revealed that 61% of Mainers support the state expanding MaineCare health insurance to more Mainers, so that they too, can have access to life-saving health care.

Earlier this week, the Maine Senate voted in favor of advancing a Republican-sponsored measure to expand MaineCare but unfortunately, it did so without a veto-proof majority.

The 70,000 Mainers who would benefit from MaineCare expansion are our friends, neighbors, and family members. In my district, Lincoln County, I’ve heard from landscapers, carpenters, farmers, welders, and lobstermen–all of whom urged my support for expanding health care.

They are the people in our nursing homes taking care of our elderly; they are the people we see every week bagging our groceries; and, they are our veterans who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. They are working–and working hard–but simply aren’t earning more than $12 to 15 thousand dollars a year. They are the most financially destitute Mainers.

One person in her early sixties told me that expansion for her would mean that they would have preventative care for the first time in their adult life. She went on to say that her doctor has recommended tests and two procedures, but she has had to decline. She added: This worries me because we all know a lack of preventive care shortens people’s lifespans.

Expanding healthcare is a quality of life issue to ensure people have preventive care to stay healthy; instead of hoping they don’t get desperately ill.

We all agree that now is the time to start bending the curve downward on health care costs, and preventive care is an important step toward that goal. Even Maine’s hospitals agree. The Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Medical Association, and the Maine Primary Care Association have all endorsed expanding MaineCare health insurance. With this in mind, it makes expansion a win on quality of life and a win in the battle to curb overall healthcare costs.

It is also a win economically. Expanding healthcare would inject $250 million in federal dollars per year into Maine. And, by the way, that’s money that if Maine doesn’t use, some other state will. To date, because Maine hasn’t already expanded MaineCare like 26 other states, we have lost out on $74 million dollars in just 2014 alone. Said another way, for each day we have not expanded MaineCare, we lose one-million-per day.

Expanding healthcare would also create 4,500 jobs right here in Maine. As Senator Roger Katz said during the floor debate on the issue, if this were any other issue, we’d be cracking open the champagne bottle to celebrate such an economic win. He then added that even using the “e” word, expansion, is akin to fighting words lately.

In spite of the bipartisan compromise, expanding healthcare has become a partisan and at times, vitriolic issue for the GOP. But in my opinion, political games should never come before standing up for Maine people and doing right by them. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in all of the other New England states found a way to move beyond the rhetoric and worked together to move forward on doing what’s right for the people in their states.

I still hold out hope for our state…that next week when the Maine House takes up the issue that they too will pass the measure–and that when this compromise measure reaches Governor LePage’s desk, he will sign it. He will sign it, not for me, or any other lawmaker in the State House but he should sign it for 61% of Mainers who support expanding MaineCare health insurance. Most importantly, he should sign it for the tens of thousands of Mainers whose lives will be improved, will be healthier, and perhaps even be saved.

Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Chris Johnson of Somerville. Have a healthy and fantastic weekend.

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*RELATED: Maine Senate Debates LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program” (VIDEOS)

ME Sen. Rodney Whittemore (R-Somerset) On LD 1487: Expansion A “Malignant Cancer Of Dependency”

Tweets On Maine Senate Debate Of LD 1487, GOP Medicaid Expansion (UPDATE: 22-13 Vote)

Maine Senate Takes Up LD 1487, GOP (Katz, Saviello) Medicaid Expansion Bill

LePage’s “Fine Young Cannibals”- And Some Food For Thought

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

Boomerang Bills: Medicaid Expansion, Revenue Sharing- Now Right To Work?

Speaker Of The House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick) Presents LD 1578 Expanding Federally Funded Health Care In HHS Public Hearing (Video; Text)

Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) Introduces LD 1640 To HHS Committee (Video; Text)

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Maine Senate Debates LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program” (VIDEOS)

Posted on March 15, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Here is the entire Maine State Senate LD 1487 floor debate from 3/12/14, unedited and in order of speakers.

Sen. Margaret Craven (D-Androscoggin) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Bill Sponsor Sen. Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Dick Woodbury (I-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Bill Sponsor Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin) Speaks in Support of LD 1487 (PT 1)

Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Penobscot) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Speaks in Opposition to LD 1487 (PT 1)

Sen. Linda Valentino (D-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Emily Cain (D-Penobscot) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. John Tuttle (D-York) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. David Burns (R-Washington) Speaks in Opposition to LD 1487

Sen. Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. David Dutremble (D-York) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Jim Boyle (D-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Garrett Mason (R-Androscoggin) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Brian Langley (R-Hancock) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. Chris Johnson (D-Lincoln) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. Roger Sherman (R-Aroostook) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Rodney Whittemore (R-Somerset) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. Rebecca Millet (D-Cumberland) Speaks in Support of LD 1487

ME Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) Opposing LD 1487 (PT 1)

ME Senate Minority Leader Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo) Opposing LD 1487 (PT 2)

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (D-Cumberland) Speaking in Support of LD 1487

Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) Opposing LD 1487

Sen. James Hamper (R-Oxford) Opposing LD 1487 (PT 2)

Sen. Tom Saviello Speaking in Support of LD 1487 (PT 2)

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ME Sen. Rodney Whittemore (R-Somerset) on LD 1487: Expansion a “Malignant Cancer of Dependency”

Posted on March 13, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

UPDATE: Here is the video clip of Sen. Rodney Whittemore (R-Somerset) opposing LD 1487.

Senator Rodney Whittemore (R-Somerset) on LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”, gave a rather provocative floor speech yesterday, in which he compared the proposed bill sponsored by fellow GOP Senators Assistant Majority leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) and Tom Saviello (R-Franklin) to a “road of hopelessness” and a “malignant cancer of dependency”.

Here is an audio link to his testimony and transcription.

rodney whittemoreTESTIMONY OF SENATOR RODNEY WHITTEMORE (R-SOMERSET) OPPOSING LD 1487

    I rise today in opposition to the motion and I promise to be brief.

    I’m sure everyone in this chamber wants assurance that those who need and want medical care receive it.

    The truth is, most of them do now.

    There are two major problems with expanding Medicaid.

    First, based on the experience of the last expansion in 2001, which created a debt of more than a half a billion dollars to our hospitals, common sense indicates that to do this again would be critically irresponsible. We must instead continue to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to find more efficient and less expensive ways in providing healthcare to those folks who need it most.

    Second, to expand Medicaid under the federal rules would inflict a malignant cancer of dependency on thousands of Mainers, who could otherwise provide for themselves through the exchange or private insurance. In too many cases, this dependency erodes self esteem, discourages responsibility and motivation, creates a feeling of entitlement, and is a road to hopelessness.

    We can all agree that there are those who need help with their medical care cost. Many of those folks are on a waiting list, and some are receiving care already. A continued effort to find affordable and more efficient ways to provide care such as prevention, managed care, walk-in clinics, home care and others, would be a wiser choice.

    We must not be tempted again to expand Medicaid, which will inevitably take us down that road of hopelessness and financial self destruction.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

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Tweets on Maine Senate Debate of LD 1487, GOP Medicaid Expansion (UPDATE: 22-13 vote)

Posted on March 12, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Tweets gathered from multiple sources discussing Maine Republican Senators Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) and Tom Saviello (R-Franklin)’s Medicaid expansion bill LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”. The bill was debated on the floor of the Senate on 3/12/14.

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UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, Speaking: Sen. Alfond

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, Speaking: Sen. Craven

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Craven

 

Debate begins in Senate on Medicaid expansion, LD 1487. #mepolitics

Sen Craven: “Ideology is a very secure jail.” #mepolitics

 

Maine Senate begins Medicaid expansion debate. #mepolitics pic.twitter.com/4s0gckSzuK

 

Here we go. LD 1487. Craven: “It’s been a long time coming.” #mepolitics

 

Craven: with the stroke of the pen we could create jobs and save lives #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sen. Margaret Craven: Accepting the federal dollars to expand health coverage to 70,000 low-income Mainers is the… http://fb.me/6G6T788wp 

 

Bill Nemitz: Senator’s health-care suggestion may hurt those who listen http://www.pressherald.com/politics/Bill_Nemitz__Senator_s_suggestion_could_come_back_to_bite_Affordable_Care_Act_applicants_.html … #mepolitics

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Katz

 

Craven: do the right thing for the people of Maine today. #coverMEnow http://ow.ly/uvQ3b  #mepolitics

 

Katz: unlike Washington we can get beyond rhetoric and get things done. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Sen. Roger Katz: Expanding healthcare coverage today would mean a $1 billion stimulus to our economy.

 

Accepting federal funds will save Maine lives, money and create jobs #157 #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Katz: “It’s us versus them. It doesn’t have to be that way.” #mepolitics #1487 pic.twitter.com/M8SLV5pua5

 

#coverMEnow http://healthcarestories.tumblr.com/?og=1  #mepolitics

 

Katz: Mentioning Medicaid expansion around here an invitation to brawl #mepolitics

 

Medicaid expansion being debated, with @SenRogerKatz pitching his bill on @ME_Senate floor. Listen here: http://1.usa.gov/N6z9zq  #mepolitics

 

The floor debate on LD 1487 just began in the Maine Senate. This bill would allow Maine to accept federal funds… http://fb.me/2JS9l16Aq 

 

ME can join all the other New England states to expand health ins to our neediest 70k MErs. What’s stopping the GOP?#coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Katz, co-sponsor of Republican amendment, says managed care provision will help Medicaid budget overruns #mepolitics

 

Katz: MaineCare is “the Titanic headed right for the iceberg whether we expand or not,” saying managed care will help overruns. #mepolitics

 

Steve Robinson ‏@Stevie_Rob 

@mikeshepherdME Is Katz saying, we’re already sinking, so what’s one more iceberg? #MEpolitics

 

Katz: everyone can be a winner with this compromise expansion bill. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Katz: this bill will provide SAVINGS. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Katz: Savings in bill will be used to pay down Medicaid oft-discussed wait list, also includes fraud prevention provisions.

 

A primer on the Katz-Saviello Medicaid expansion bill: http://goo.gl/6G8lDG  #mepolitics

 

Katz: we are turning our backs on $1M if we don’t expand MECare health insurance. this $$ will go to middle class. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Katz: we should be popping champagne bottles b/c of the economic boost expansion will bring. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Katz: we can’t turn our back on the opportunity to improve economy, we’re turning away $1 million a day by not taking funds #mepolitics

 

Senator Roger Katz: Expanding coverage means a net savings to state and injection of $1 billion into Maine’s economy. #mepolitics

Katz: today is our opportunity to prove we can work together and find common ground #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Katz: most ppl expect us to work together on the hardest issues to get things done. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Woodbury

 

Sen Katz: urges Republican colleagues to push past ideology. #mepolitics

 

Katz asks: are we incapable of working together (zoom: GOP) #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Woodbury: as someone with health insurance there’s a fairness aspect to expanding health insurance. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Senator Richard Woodbury: Expanding healthcare coverage is a statewide economic development incentive. #mepolitics

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Saviello

 

RIGHT NOW: Tell your State Senator to accept the federal dollars! http://fb.me/23owNKcUm 

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Gratwick

 

Gratwick: As a doctor i’ve spent 45 years keeping ppl healthy. this bill helps to do that. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Senator Gratwick 157 people will die if we do not expand MaineCare #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sen. Geoff Gratwick, MD: 157 people will die in Maine if we do not expand MaineCare. #mepolitics

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Hamper

 

Sen. Gratwick, MD reminds us that an estimated 157 mainers will die if federal funds not accepted. http://www.157mainers.com  #mepolitics

 

Hamper now speaking against. Notes previous liberal opposition to managed care. #mepolitics

 

GOP Sen. Saviello: health care plan will boost Franklin County’s economy, improve lives http://healthcarestories.tumblr.com/post/79359948054/franklin-county … #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Of interest to listen to a Republican argue against privatizing Medicaid services (to managed care) #mepolitics

 

Hamper got facts wrong: hospitals actually support expanding health insurance to 70k MErs. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

Hamper takes them back to 2001 expansion and then debate of LD1301. “Once again we are hearing the mermaids … #mepolitics

 

Sen. Hamper waxing overly poetic against Medicaid expansion. Too bad his pretty words mean that our neighbors will suffer.

 

Sen. Gratwick: What health care means for his neighbors. Read a story from Susan of Bangor http://healthcarestories.tumblr.com/post/79358719471/susan-alexa-bangor … #mepolitics #coverMEnow

James Hamper, R-Oxford, reading testimony from 2001 expansion debate, noting similarity of arguments today. #mepolitics

 

Another first for me in the Maine Senate: Dr. Phil just quoted during a floor speech. Medicaid expansion has officially jumped the shark…

 

FACT CHECK ON HEALTH CARE OPPONENTS: Total spending on Medicaid in Maine was the same in 2013 as it was in 2009 #mepolitics #coverMEnow

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Valentino

 

Sen Hamper: Thanks for not ruining another classic rock song for me as you did in your speech last year against Medicaid. #mepolitics

 

Hamper’s testimony was eloquent. Nice reference to playwright from Greek antiquity. #MEpolitics

 

States that accept federal health care $ will see slower growth in Medicaid programs http://bit.ly/1aCIN6f  #mepolitics #coverMEnow

Sen. Valentino, Chair of Workforce, stands up in favor, cites financial benefits of improving health care costs #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Cain

 

Promises made in 2001 expansion are being made again in 2014 — 2001 promises failed – why believe them now?

Sen. Valentino: I’m supporting expansion for the 8,196 people in York County who will gain access to healthcare #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sen Hamper – we are hearing the siren songs of Federal money

Valentino: how can you vote against the jobs for your county. in my country it’s 500 jobs. expand health ins.#coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Wow. Gratwick playing the #LePageIsAMurderer card hard. #MEpolitics

 

I’ll ask you again @Stevie_Rob Why are you attributing a statement to Sen Gratwick that he didn’t say? Why are you lying? #mepolitics

 

This is rich. Terry Hayes talking on @MPBN about civil discourse as @MaineDems call LePage, GOP murderers. #MEpolitics

 

@Stevie_Rob @MPBN @MaineDems Terry’s a good person. She stands up to them when she knows they’re wrong. I respect her for that.

Cain: Tiffany is doing everything she can to help herself. expanding healthcare isn’t partisan. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Senator Cain: It’s up to us to say yes to expansion to help hardworking men & women across ME #mepolitcs #coverMEnow

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Tuttle

 

Patty Kidder, woman Sen. Tuttle is talking about, is an @MainePeople regular. I bet Tipping or Chipman wrote her comments. #MEpolitics

 

Senate needs 24 of 35 votes to get a veto-proof bill. This is a real test balloon. Medicaid expansion debate.#mepolitics

 

Tuttle: vets in this room are lucky we are covered. some of the kids coming back from Iraq will be helped by this.#coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Sen. Tuttle talks as veteran about health care. Here is Navy Veteran Tom Ptacek’s story. http://healthcarestories.tumblr.com/post/79359860667/thomas-ptacek-portland … #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Tuttle: 8,196 people will have access to health care in York County with expansion. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

Sen Tuttle shares Patty Kidder of Springvale’s story. Proud to be in the fight with Patty. #mepolitics

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Burns

 

Republicans reiterate again current MaineCare program already makes up 25% of state budget up from 13% in 1998. #mepolitics

 

Sen. Burns speaks against healthcare. Here’s what Washington County will lose if he votes no http://healthcarestories.tumblr.com/post/79358705556/washington-county … #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

More on the Kidders, from last year: http://www.pressherald.com/news/medicaid-standoff-has-serious-consequences-for-needy_2013-06-02.html?pagenum=full … #mepolitics

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Lachowicz

 

What’s next for Jed without his medication? http://youtu.be/6dpT0qt-5BY  #mepolitics

 

#mepolitics The bipartisan healh care plan would reduce wait lists for home care services. PPH editorial http://bit.ly/1fTYjhL  #coverMEnow

 

Maine’s spending on Medicaid, per recipient, is the lowest in New England and the state ranks 26th nationally. #mepolitics

 

Lachowicz: expanding health ins saves lives. ppl we know. family, friends. the person we see bagging our groceries. #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sen. Colleen Lachowicz is sharing personal stories of Mainers whose lives are on the line. #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Nobody has the duty to save lives. But if you just stand by and let people die, what does it say about your basic humanity? #MEPolitics

 

Dems: jobs and better health for constituents. GOP: pats on the head from LePage. #seeyouinNovember #mepolitics

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Dutremble

 

Dutremble: as a paramedic i see 1st hand when ppl say i can’t go to hosp b/c it will cost too much and no insurance. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Dutremble: do what is right for the ppl of ME and give the coverage to our friends family and neighbors #coverMEnow #mepolitics

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Boyle

 

Sen Lachowicz: David Carpenter of Waterville lost his MECare and had a heart attack a few weeks later. #157 #mepolitics

 

Sen. Jim Boyle, who is a small business owner: Accept the federal dollars. It’s important to small businesses. #mepolitics

 

Facts are facts. 157 Mainers are expected to lose their lives if we don’t accept federal funds & we will remember in November #mepolitics

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Mason

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Vitelli

 

Sen Mason: “There is no such thing as public money.” I haven’t heard that one before. #mepolitics

 

Mason urges the defeat of expanding health care to 70k mainers. that’s 5,829 of Mason’s constituents. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Vitelli: who will be helped by expanding health ins? a single dad who works as a barber but doesn’t earn enough $$#coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

VItelli: cost IS an obstacle to care. #coverMEnow #mepolitics

Tweets on Maine Senate Debate of LD 1487, GOP Medicaid Expansion #mepolitics #coverMEnow http://wp.me/p1KSWj-1bq 

 

Sen. Eloise Vitelli: Small business owners throughout Maine will benefit from healthcare expansion. They deserve our support. #mepolitics

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Langley

 

.@BrianDLangley stance on Medicaid expansion upcoming: Could be a swing vote; voted against expansion last year. We’ll see. #mepolitics

Langley, a no-vote on expansion last year, says he’s seen workers quit jobs before earning too much to give up free health care #mepolitics

 

22 Senate votes in the tank for expansion, Ds, I, Katz, Saviello. 24 needed for veto-proof margin. Are 2 more GOPers there? #mepolitics

@mikeshepherdME Flood?

 

Langley’s a no on expansion. Only way to veto-proof margin I see is with Flood and Whittemore supporting. #mepolitics

 

Sen. Troy Langley turns his back on 70,000 Mainers who need quality, affordable healthcare. #mepolitics

 

@WorkingMaine BRIAN Langley… Senate Majority Leader TROY Jackson aka @Troy4Congress fully supports expansion #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sen. Brian Langley turns his back on 70,000 Mainers who need quality, affordable healthcare. #mepolitics

 

Debate on expanding health care and the GOP left chamber #mepolitcs pic.twitter.com/w9Y0OkZ9e1

 

Sen Johnson tells story of sister elizabeth–a nun who is a childless adult–who can’t get MECare. Yes, I said she is a nun. #mepolitics

 

Langley: thought deeply about this, but too afraid that one County Dem committee will make Maine do single payor. #makessense #mepolitics

Sen. Johnson talks about a lobsterman in his district who lost critical health care last year because of politics. #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

@mainesenatedems Sen. Johnson on what health care means for Lincoln County http://healthcarestories.tumblr.com/post/79359935046/lincoln-county … #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sen. Chris Johnson: Expansion is the right decision morally and ethically, and it is also fiscally responsible. #mepolitics

 

Senate debating expanding healthcare to Mainers and GOP left chamber. #mepolitics#coverME now

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Why is someone who’s working to make ends meet less deserving of subsidized H/C insurance than someone earning more than he is? #MEPolitics

 

@andiparkinson2 @WorkingMaine @Troy4Congress Darn that Sen. Troy Langley. #mepolitics

 

That executive director of the #MEGOP @jsavage207 sure is following Reagan’s rule regarding #GOP Senators Katz and Saviello. #mepolitics

 

Remember in November…#mepolitics #covermenow #gopmia pic.twitter.com/Et07Qvw7KY

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Cushing

 

Access to MaineCare saved our lives. http://youtu.be/YbSGiyRt57U  #mepolitics

 

Sen Johnson references “the least among you,” from Matthew 25: sheep and the goats. “I was sick and you looked after me.” #mepolitics

 

weird @jsavage207. “this is health insurance we’re talking about” Sen. Cushing. #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sen. Cushing has one concern: He believes we should balance the state budget on the backs of those with the least. #mepolitics

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Sherman

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Patrick

 

A solid majority in the Maine Senate supports accepting federal health care funds, as does a solid majority of Maine people. #mepolitics

Very disappointed in Sen. Langley’s speech in Maine Senate http://157mainers.com  #mepolitics

 

Sherman: no Medicaid b/c inflation under Carter. #makessense #mepolitics

“Clarify that healthcare is not a right.” – #MEGOP platform Well they sure are doing that now. #mepolitics

 

Langley, a no-vote on expansion last year, says he’s seen workers quit jobs before earning too much to give up free health care #mepolitics

More governing via anecdote Thanks @SenBrianLangley#mepolitics @stevemistler

 

Any prescient headline writers out there as Senate still debates Medicaid expansion measure? #mepolitics passes? 24 votes? or only 23?

 

The #GOP to Maine: Suck it up! You don’t need no stinkin’ health care like people all over the world & across the USA. #mepolitics

 

Patrick: what is the value of a life? 50 lives. if we don’t pass this there will be cost of lives to our citizens #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sen. Sherman (R-Houlton) on voting to deny Mainers health care: “We tend to personalize these things.” Including in November! #mepolitics

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Jackson

Senator Patrick defines the plight of thousands of Mainers who are the invisibles: Working hard to be ignored. #MEPolitics

 

Sen. Partrick on health care: “We are talking about people’s lives” #mepolitics #coverMEnow Check out their stories: http://healthcarestories.tumblr.com/ 

 

Can’t get why Maine’s Governor and many in his party would watch Maine tax money get spent on health care for others but not us. #mepolitics

 

Jackson: expanding health ins can help correct the unfairness of bad things happening to good ppl #coverMEnow #mepolitics

 

Starting to think @MaineDems won’t be happy until our roads are dirt, our schools decrepit, and welfare = 80% of state budget. #mepolitics

 

Senator Troy Jackson supporting Maine Medicaid Expansion: Life isn’t always fair. That’s why we should be. #MEPolitics

 

@mainesenatedems What health care means for Aroostook County http://healthcarestories.tumblr.com/post/79359955514/aroostook-county … #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Jackson: if i were not an elected official i’d likely be 1 of those ppl you’re talking about w/o insurance. #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sen Jackson: I’m standing here with my 3rd pacemaker only because I have health insurance as an elected official #mepolitics #CoverMEnow

Jackson: i have my 3rd pacemaker-only b/c i have ins. what about those who don’t? #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

some ppl do everything they can to make their life better. they deserve for lawmakers to make the right choice. #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Yes, that’s snow in the window beyond Sen. Patrick in the distance. #mepolitics medicaid debate enters 3rd hour. pic.twitter.com/Hwf764waRX

 

GOP mantra: don’t get sick #mepolitics #coverMEnow

Sen. Jackson on how health care would help loggers like him keep working #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Any prescient headline writers out there as Senate still debates Medicaid expansion measure? #mepolitics passes? 24 votes? or only 23?

@thisdog I’m saying 23 votes, 1 short. #mepolitics

@mikeshepherdME @thisdog Who’s the empirical ear to the ground who can identify the swing vote, would be my question. #mepolitics

@thisdog @emilydshaw Flood is my 23rd. Whittemore’s the only hope for 24. #mepolitics

@mikeshepherdME @thisdog Right- and with no Langley, I doubt it too. http://emilydshaw.com/2013/06/10/pivot-points-or-why-we-might-believe-sen-katz-on-mainecare/ … from last time. Love your careful attn and work!

@emilydshaw @mikeshepherdME @thisdog Yep. Short of serious change of heart, 23.

 

Jackson: what do you say to ppl who are doing everything they can to help themselves. what do u say 2 them GOP? #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

“What do these people do while we’re waiting?” #saysitall #mepolitics

 

For the first time, Sen. Troy Jackson is challenging the GOP myth of the “lazy able-bodied Mainer. Atta boy, Troy.

 

Winding down debate on Medicaid expansion in state Senate.

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Whittemore

 

Whiitemore is out too. #mepolitics will it even reach 23 votes now.

Make that Whittemore. #mepolitics

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Millett

 

Millett: 61% of Mainers support expansion. (familiar number) #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Whittemore is a no on Medicaid expansion. That looks like 23 votes, not enough to override a future LePage veto.

 

@mikeshepherdME Maybe Thibodeau comes in and surprises everyone?

 

Sen. Wittemore claims Mainers w/o insurance are better off without it. He says there are “wiser choices.”// For whom? For them? #MEPolitics

 

via @aedurkin & @AP: Republicans offer alternative to growing MaineCare http://www.pressherald.com/politics/Republicans_offer_option_to_growing_MaineCare.html … #mepolitics

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Thibodeau

 

Millett: ME biz compete w biz in states that have already expanded healthcare. good economics. help ME compete#mepolitics #coverMEnow

Maine Democrat messaging has literally turned into “vote for MaineCare expansion or you are murdering people”

 

Will Thibodeau suggest welfare fraud as the answer to uninsured “Gappers” again? #mepolitics

 

Thibodeau hopes just as he respects Katz, Dems’ views, Dems will respect his on merits. Meanwhile, left accuses GOP of murder. #mepolitics

 

Medicaid debate in ME Senate today confirms we need a governor who will sign good laws that serve ME people; vote @Michaud2014 #mepolitics

 

RT @DSorensenME: … Meanwhile, left accuses GOP of murder. #mepolitics// Not murder, willful disregard.

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Alfond

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Haskell

 

Sen. Thibodeau speaking. Nemitz on Sen’s plan for ME ppl to falsify income to get healthcare http://bit.ly/1hcI7Vo  #mepolitics #coverMEnow

@Troy4Congress speaking truth today, just like last year… Troy Jackson’s Heart http://wp.me/p1KSWj-NM  #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Since January 1st Maine has rejected over $900,000 PER DAY that would provide coverage to 70,000 uninsured… http://fb.me/6yy7y1ah1 

 

.@RABMaine Katz/Saviello addresses the wait lists #mepolitics cc @jonhinck

 

With murder rhetoric, Maine Dems far surpass anything they’ve ever accused the Tea Party of. Smells of desperation. #mepolitics

 

@DSorensenME I know. It’s enough to make one reach for one’s government paid for inhaler, isn’t it? #mepolitics #coverMEnow #hypocrit

 

Desperate cannibalizing talking point is back. Get the facts from @bangordailynews http://bit.ly/1fqDTHk #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

out of touch. Thibodeau claims ppl who make less than $1k month can afford insurance & out of pocket med costs. #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sen Thibodeau doubles down: people below poverty level should falsify their income to apply for the exchange subsidies. #mepolitics

 

Sen. Thibodeau bringing this debate in for a vote now. More-or-less offering closing statements on Medicaid expansion bill #mepolitics

@thisdog Will @SenThibodeau again encourage Mainers to lie about their income on their #ACA applications? #mepolitics

@DirigoBlue @thisdog @SenThibodeau Apparently yes!

 

compassion is missing from the conservative side of the aisle today. #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

I only see #MEGOP tweeterati spinners yelling “murder” when truth is http://157mainers.com/  simply points out number at risk. #mepolitics

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Gerzofsky

 

Here we go on a vote. Roll call pending on expansion. But not before Stan Gerzofsky speaks. #mepolitics

 

Roll call requested now. One more speech coming from Sen. Gerzofsky #mepolitics

 

providing ppl who need health ins seems simple to me say the constituents of Sen. Stan #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Here’s what health care would mean for Russell Eaton of Topsham.http://healthcarestories.tumblr.com/post/79359917069/russell-eaton-topsham … #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Thomas

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Hamper

 

Sen. Gerzofsky’s underlying message is astounding: Having a relationship with the invisibles saves all of us money. #mepolitics

Sen Thomas: we provide free care. Sen Mason: there’s no such thing as free. #GOPconfusion #mepolitics

 

Hamper, speaking for 2nd time, is reciting some sort of acrostic poem about how MaineCare shouldn’t be expanded. #mepolitics

 

Health care opponents tout failed Alexander Group numbers #desperate #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Sickening: State Senator Doug Thomas says it’s “corrosive to society” to expand healthcare to include 70,000 low-income Mainers. #mepolitics

Sen Hamper is doing both mental math and an acrostic on the Senate floor. Mathematicians and poets, beware. #mepolitics

 

Sen Hamper recites a cherry-picked constituent’s experience (not a Gap Mainer) and moves on to crossword puzzles. #MEPolitics

 

Damn. Senator Thibodeau is encouraging folks to overestimate their income again to qualify for subsidies. This is insane. #MEPolitics

@cejesq Just tell the 2,629 Waldo County residents eligible for expansion not to be poor. #mepolitics #snakeoil

 

Hamper now picking apart OFPR cost estimate point by point. #mepolitics

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Speaking: Sen. Saviello

 

Q: How many GOP Sens right now have pre-existing conditions, $$$ monthly RX, dr visits? Voters REMEMBER #hypocrits #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

Saviello up now. Will he get last word? Reading letter from hosp CEO on charity care. #mepolitics

 

I admire Sen. Saviello’s Republican outlook. Also his bow tie. #MEPolitics

 

House GOP hoping http://www.maine.gov/legis/house_gop/_news/news_page.php?story_id=20140312_00000496&story_title=Maine%20House%20GOP%20News:%20House%20Republicans%20Call%20on%20Rank-and-File%20Dems%20to%20Reconsider%20Expansion … RT @RABMaine No courageous Ds defying party leaders as they spend our kids into poverty? #mepolitics

 

@DSorensenME @RABMaine Yes, because none of 70k that would be covered w/expansion are kids/ parents right Dave? #poorhouses #coverMEnow

 

@DirigoBlue @Stevie_Rob @BChinME If ur partially disabled and made $10,000 for the past 5 years, should you estimate $12,000? #mepolitics

@aobrien2010 Depends on size of household @SenThibodeau suggests single parent of 1 $15,510+$1 to qualify #mepolitics @Stevie_Rob @BChinME

 

@aobrien2010 @cejesq Easy: No gap if no one gets sick or loses FT job and needs to work part time at low wage job. #mepolitics

@ASFried @cejesq Sure, they can put food on the table and get health care through the power of positive thinking. #mepolitics

Today’s a good example of why I no longer associate myself with @MaineDems#independentftw

 

Here’s the vote now. #mepolitics

 

UF-18, LD 1487, AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT MANAGED CARE IN THE MAINECARE PROGRAM, ACCEPT MAJ OTP-A RPT, Yea 22 Nay 13 Abs 0

Majority of GOP denies healthcare to 70k Mainers. 22-13 #mepolitics #coverMEnow

 

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Maine Senate Takes Up LD 1487, GOP (Katz, Saviello) Medicaid Expansion Bill

Posted on March 12, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Senate video link to watch the floor debate.

Audio link here.

Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

Last week, the Health and Human Services legislative committee voted out two of three Medicaid expansion bills to the full Maine legislature, LDs 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People” offered by Speaker of the House Mark Eves and 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”, sponsored by Republican Senators Roger Katz, (R-Kennebec), who serves as Asst Minority Leader in that chamber, and fellow caucus member Tom Saviello (R-Franklin).

The last of the 3, Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson’s sponsored LD 1640, “An Act To Enhance the Stability and Predictability of Health Care Costs for Returning Veterans and Others by Addressing the Issues Associated with Hospital Charity Care and Bad Debt”, has yet to be voted out by committee.

Earlier today, Democrats sent out a press release to remind about the positive effects of expansion for tens of thousands of Mainers and urging support of Senator Katz’s bill:

    The federal government has offered to pay 100 percent of the cost of health care for tens of thousands of Mainers under the Affordable Care Act. Key moderate Republicans and Democrats have worked on a bipartisan plan, LD 1487, to accept these funds.

    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.

    “Expanding access to healthcare will strengthen our economy and create jobs and save money, but most importantly, it will save lives,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “Each one of the 70,000 people waiting to see if we will step up and do the right thing has a story to tell, a family they love, dreams and plans for their future, and a life to live. Let’s not let them down.

    This is a common sense bipartisan proposal saves lives, saves money and creates jobs. The bipartisan plan includes a managed care program to lower the cost of health care and hold government and providers accountable for making sure people have access to appropriate care at an appropriate time, while also ensuring fair prices. It also puts in place a plan to reduce the wait list for home care services for Mainers with intellectual disabilities and adds two new Medicaid fraud investigators to step up fraud prosecutions.

    “We have a good-faith compromise that would accept federal dollars to provide life-saving health care to 70,000 Mainers,” said House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick. “We have an opportunity to change lives for the better and improve the health of thousands of our neighbors. It’s the right thing to do.”

Here are some of the impacts, listed by county:

    Androscoggin:

  • 5,829 people would gain access to health care.
  • An additional $30 million will be spent annually on health care services by 2016, stimulating about $45 million in additional economic activity.
  • Expansion would create approximately 378 new jobs in the county.

    Aroostook:

  • 4,615 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $24 million spent annually on health care services, $31 million total in additional economic activity
  • 280 new jobs

    Cumberland:

  • 12,018 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $63 million spent annually, $104 million in additional economic activity
  • 846 new jobs

    Franklin:

  • 1,878 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $10 million spent annually on health care services, $13 million in additional economic activity
  • 123 new jobs

    Hancock:

  • 3,235 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $17 million spent annually on health care services, $23 million in additional economic activity
  • 204 new jobs

    Kennebec:

  • 5,997 people would gain access to health car;
  • Additional $32 million spent annually on health care services, $43 million in additional economic activity
  • 367 new jobs

    Knox:

  • 2,317 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $12 million spent annually on health care services, $17 million in additional economic activity
  • 154 new jobs

    Lincoln:

  • 1,817 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $10 million spent annually on health care services, $13 million in additional economic activity
  • 124 new jobs

    Oxford:

  • 3,806 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $20 million spent annually on health care services, $25 million in additional economic activity
  • 231 new jobs

    Penobscot:

  • 8,447 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $45 million spent annually on health care services, $66 million in additional economic activity
  • 545 new jobs

    Piscataquis:

  • 1,067 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $6 million spent annually on health care services, $6 million in additional economic activity
  • 63 new jobs

    Sagadahoc:

  • 1,456 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $8 million spent annually on health care services, $3 million in additional economic activity
  • 34 new jobs

    Somerset:

  • 3,590 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $19 million spent annually on health care services, $23 million in additional economic activity
  • 207 new jobs

    Waldo:

  • 2,629 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $14 million spent annually on health care services, $18 million in additional economic activity
  • 161 new jobs

    Washington:

  • 2,601 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $14 million spent annually on health care services, $17 million in additional economic activity
  • 155 new jobs

    York:

  • 8,196 people would gain access to health care
  • Additional $43 million spent annually on health care services, $59 million in additional economic activity
  • 513 new jobs

Here again is a clip of Senator Katz introducing his bill to the committee on February 26:

The HHS committee votes on both LD 1487 and 1578 were straight party line votes, even though 1487 is sponsored by two Republican senators, and is indicative of the strong pressure being put onto GOP lawmakers formerly open to expansion by the LePage administration may be having some effect.

*RELATED:

March 4: LePage’s “Fine Young Cannibals”- And Some Food For Thought

February 25: (UPDATED) Maine GOP- Yes, REPUBLICANS!- To Attempt Compromised/ Combined Medicaid Expansion Bill

February 4: Boomerang Bills: Medicaid Expansion, Revenue Sharing- Now Right To Work?

January 16: Speaker Of The House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick) Presents LD 1578 Expanding Federally Funded Health Care In HHS Public Hearing (Video; Text)

January 16: Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) Introduces LD 1640 To HHS Committee (Video; Text)

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LePage’s “Fine Young Cannibals”- and Some Food For Thought

Posted on March 4, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Last week on February 24, Maine Governor Paul LePage put forth a press release with an unusual claim- that Maine state agencies were being “cannibalized by welfare spending”, due to Maine’s expansions years ago.

lepage sots angry self

    “Because Maine already expanded welfare a decade ago, Medicaid is now cannibalizing funding from all other state agencies,” said Governor LePage. “That means the state cannot fully pay its 55 percent share of local education costs. It cannot hire more Maine State Troopers or repair National Guard facilities. The state cannot adequately promote fishing and hunting programs or conduct research on our fisheries. It cannot expand job-training opportunities or properly fund programs for environmental emergencies. Everything the State of Maine does is adversely impacted by Medicaid spending. Now liberals want to expand welfare again.”

    “We simply cannot keep throwing money at an inadequate welfare program. The state is not meeting the health care needs of vulnerable Mainers, and adding more people to the welfare rolls will only exacerbate the problem,” Governor LePage said. “Expanding welfare a decade did not increase access or improve the quality of care, nor did it help uninsured Mainers. Now it is threatening all of the other programs and services Mainers expect from their state government.”

    “Our state is facing a fiscal crisis, and we need to examine our spending practices, evaluate the delivery of services and gain control of our welfare system,” said Governor LePage. “Maine’s economic security and future is at stake, and we must make hard choices. My challenge as Governor and our challenge as a state is to find ways to help Maine families prosper, improve the business climate, foster better educational opportunities while still protecting those most in need with limited resources. We cannot do that while Medicaid is consuming an inordinate amount of our finite financial resources.”

The messages were repeat statements of LePage’s February 19 weekly radio address and an earlier address from January 15 with much of the governor’s proof of his claims coming from the faulty Alexander Report, now repackaged as “The Feasibility of Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act” (PDF warning).

Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec)

What had started the Governor’s discussion on refusing to expand Medicaid (despite numerous reports of how beneficial such expansion would be for Maine and support from the Maine Hospital Association) were plans by Democratic leaders to introduce of a pair of Medicaid expansion bills:

  • LD 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People” sponsored by Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick)
  • LD 1640, “An Act To Enhance the Stability and Predictability of Health Care Costs for Returning Veterans and Others by Addressing the Issues Associated with Hospital Charity Care and Bad Debt” Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook)’s bill

To date, neither bill has yet been voted out of HHS committee.

But the final straw? Learning that despite all of his best efforts, TWO MEMBERS OF HIS OWN REPUBLICAN CAUCUS (Senators Roger Katz and Tom Saviello) WERE GOING TO OFFER UP A THIRD MEDICAID EXPANSION BILL!!

So, not satisfied that his words were getting through to the public or legislators, the LePage administration decided to go further- and employ a desperate sort of “throw everything against the wall until something sticks” technique, by emailing various state agencies and demanding the communications directors supply public statements in regard to how expansion would adversely affect their budgets.

The results see below were sent out as part of a February 24 press release.

But apparently that STILL did not have the desired effect and impact- so on February 26, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew hosted a large media event in Governor LePage’s cabinet room with a variety of department heads dutifully taking their turns and standing to speak to the gathered Maine press about how their budgets were being “cannibalized” by the monies going into DHHS, as well as a new LePage assertion that “Medicaid Expansion is Bad for the Environment”.

    Media Advisory: Medicaid Expansion is Bad for the Environment

    DSC_0027Medicaid expansion threatens programs, positions and services in all state departments. During the past three years, state government has eliminated and reduced funding in every state agency to pay for welfare costs.

    As Medicaid spending continues to consume the General Fund, there is less and less revenue for education, law enforcement, economic development and programs to protect our natural resources.

    On Wednesday, Feb. 26, the LePage Administration will hold a news conference with commissioners of natural resources agencies to focus on programs and services that will be impacted further should Medicaid expansion pass.

    media“Because Maine already expanded welfare a decade ago, Medicaid is now cannibalizing funding from all other state agencies,” said Governor LePage. “That means the state cannot adequately promote fishing and hunting programs or conduct research on our fisheries. It cannot expand job-training opportunities or properly fund programs for environmental emergencies. Everything the State of Maine does is adversely impacted by Medicaid spending. Now liberals want to expand welfare again.”

    In the 13 years since Maine expanded welfare, Medicaid enrollment has more than doubled, and its cost has grown by $1.3 billion. Medicaid now takes 25 percent of all General Fund revenue.

    More than $2 billion will be spent on Maine’s Medicaid program over the next two years. Even without expansion, Medicaid is projected to total more than 35 percent of the General Fund.

While the room was packed with currently serving GOP legislators, Republican legislative candidates, volunteers with signs held up opposing Medicaid expansion, bunches of Maine media and those speaking, Governor Paul LePage was nowhere to be seen and did not attend the press conference. Nor was his absence explained by staff.

Here are clips from that event.

A reminder: Mary Mayhew has time and time again, over the course of the three years since she took over the reins after the March 2011 abrupt firing of for Maine CDC Director then MaineCare head Dr. Dora Mills, never been able to get solid numbers on her department’s fiscal needs, outbound spending costs, over/ under payments, let alone satisfactory explanations of countless “IT issues”/ documented complaints to media or the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee in the Legislature.

So that the crux of the LePage administration’s argument being that “Medicaid expansion will cause DHHS’ budgetary needs to grow to the point that other state agencies to suffer” seems to be either utterly oblivious of Mayhew’s horrendous mismanagement at best or completely disingenuous in ignoring the demonstrated and documented missteps (arguably the true cause of the “cannibalism”) at worst.

Skipping past the third option that the “unfunded $400 million tax cuts to the wealthy” chickens have come home to roost…

The media circus didn’t stop Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec), who went before the HHS Committee a few hours later and presented the bill that he and fellow Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin) sponsored, LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”.

Videos here of the public hearing on LD 1487:

The two Republican senators, in preparation of the bill’s introduction, had spoken previously with Portland Press Herald at length and in detail about LD 1487:

    Katz and Saviello stopped by the newsroom this week and laid out a clear, compelling and perfectly rational argument behind their proposal:

      Senator Tom Saviello (R-Franklin)

      Senator Tom Saviello (R-Franklin)

      It would expand MaineCare, at long last, to those at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty line. What’s more, it would do so through a new, managed-care model run not by the state, but by private-sector providers that would compete for the opportunity to deliver health care, at a set fee per patient, to Maine’s neediest population.

    • It would “sunset” automatically in three years, when the 100 percent federal funding begins dropping incrementally to 90 percent. And if the feds reneged on their 100-percent promise before then, the plug would get pulled immediately.
    • It would require a nonpartisan analysis to help future lawmakers determine whether the expansion achieved its goals (including a 5 percent reduction in health delivery costs) over those three years and, more importantly, whether the program is worth preserving beyond the three-year cutoff.
    • It would eliminate those abhorrent waiting lists for developmentally disabled adults who need non-health services (they already receive MaineCare) to live fulfilling lives.

Now, here’s where things get a little odd.

Look at that earlier Governor’s Cabinet press conference Q&A clip again, paying particular attention to the 1:42 mark.

Mayhew is interrupted mid-explanation to WCSH’s Don Carrigan by an unseen woman speaking (to Mary’s right) and prompting the commissioner with a talking point. And Mayhew took it in stride, as if it was not a rather egregious breech to interrupt an administration official while on camera during a press conference.

Cumberland County GOP members instructed how to be props for LePage admin anti-Medicaid expansion press conference

Cumberland County GOP members instructed how to be props for LePage admin anti-Medicaid expansion press conference

Who was that woman? Well, let’s back up here, by about 2 hours- because between 9-11am that same morning down in the State House Welcome Center, a rather large group of supposed volunteers were assembled for a “legislative lobbying training session”.

In reality, the group were a bunch of well organized members of the Cumberland County Republicans, including chair/ state committee member Eric Lusk, vice chair Bill Gardner, former state senate candidates Michael Coleman, Eric Brakey (who also heads Maine’s Defender of Liberty PAC), Kristen Martin (who was the woman who later jumped in while Commissioner Mayhew was speaking at the press conference), former House GOP press officer Vic Bernadelli and others.

A few interesting moments on the clip:

    1. At 8:50 after summing up what had already been discussed including lobbying instructions, Lusk asked those who can stay to be up at the Governor’s office at 12:15, “there may be something of a gathering”, “please grab some signs”.

    2. At the 9:40 mark, Gardner discusses the placards as needing (paraphrase) “to get back the signs, they belong to Susan Dench of Informed Women’s Network; she takes them all over the place” (to events).

    3. Martin from 9:56 discusses reimbursements, as well as opines that the poor can get free care at the hospitals, with no bills to be paid.

    4. At the 10:45 mark Lusk is asked by an audience member why the younger citizens are targeted by the expansion and admits that the most cynical answer is that Democrats are trying to buy votes.

pacman thumbHang on a minute- because the “cannibalism” LePage meme first started out as a 1980s video game reference… PAC-MAN!

In late January, another anti-expansion group met in a similar gathering in the Welcome Center. Former Maine Legislator now head of Americans For Prosperity Maine Carol Weston held a press conference, speaking in opposition to Medicaid expansion and giving examples of how expansion would create financial challenges for local municipalities:

    Opponents of Maine’s controversial Medicaid expansion proposal say expanding the low income health insurance program will take away critical funds from schools and other state programs. The group called Americans a For Prosperity Maine said passage of the law will lead to what it called a “Medicaid Pac-Man” that will gobble up money needed for other essential services.

Carol Weston, Maine State Director of Americans for Prosperity, introduces Gov. Paul R. LePage at Hall of Flags rally in June 2013 (photo courtesy of The Maine Wire)

Carol Weston, Maine State Director of Americans for Prosperity, introduces Gov. Paul R. LePage at Hall of Flags rally in June 2013 (photo courtesy of The Maine Wire)

Notice how none of the speakers in the above clip mention how their local communities were at risk or would suffer adverse affects due to Governor LePage’s zero revenue sharing budget from last year.

It should be noted that the Legislature overwhelmingly passed LD 1762, restoring $40M in revenue sharing to Maine’s towns and the bill silently went into law unsigned last week.

Yet the same imagery of “cannibalism”, albeit via a Medicaid-fueled scribbled 1980’s PAC-Man hand drawing by Weston herself, was employed.

Coincidence that a similar AFP movement occurred in Virginia, despite that state’s hospitals pushing for expansion?

Doubtful.

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(UPDATED) Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage, er, DHHS Commish Mary Mayhew: “Most Vulnerable Will Keep Paying the Price for Medicaid Expansion”

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

(4:30 PM UPDATE): MDOL Commissioner Jeanne Paquette apparently didn’t think that her communications director Julie Rabinowicz expressed the department’s views clearly enough and as such, submitted her own statement moments ago:

    Statement from Commissioner Paquette: Growing Medicaid Budget Forces Cuts That Prevent Mainers from Getting Trained for New Jobs
    For Immediate Release: February 25, 2014

    Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009

      AUGUSTA— Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette has issued the following statement describing the effects of the growth of DHHS’s budget on the Department of Labor’s ability to assist the long term unemployed and the underemployed.

        Growing Medicaid Budget Forces Cuts That Prevent Mainers from Getting Trained for New Jobs

      Governor Paul R. LePage has said that because Maine already expanded welfare a decade ago, “Medicaid is now cannibalizing funding from all other state agencies.” This is particularly true in the Department of Labor, where loss of General Fund revenue has prevented many of our citizens from getting a hand up—not a handout—with a good job.

      Many of DOL’s job training programs and other initiatives to help businesses hire skilled workers were once funded by General Fund revenue or a mix of state and federal funding. But state funds have been cut drastically, leaving DOL dependent on shrinking federal dollars—dollars that come with many restrictions.

      Investments in job training targeted to high-wage, in-demand jobs provide a significant return; in general, trainees earn higher wages with better benefits than they did upon entering the program. The department’s programs are needed the most during economic downturns, yet our funding has declined, while demand for our services has increased.

      The department has not been able to sustain a number of programs that help people transition from unemployment and welfare back into the workforce.

      Forced by state funding cuts, DOL in 2007 and 2008 had to close almost half of its 22 CareerCenters, including sites in Rumford, Dover-Foxcroft, Ellsworth, Houlton, Belfast, Saco and Waterville, as well as satellite locations in Newcastle, South Paris and Madawaska. Little did the state realize how critical this decision would be just a few years later as these communities dealt with the recession.

      These closures severely limited Maine’s ability to assist the unemployed, making job-search support and job-training services much harder to access.

      Funding for another program, the Maine Enterprise Option, is gone. This program helped unemployment recipients start their own businesses by providing business management training. Running this program requires our staff to track and evaluate participants to ensure compliance with program requirements.

      Between 2006 and 2012, 2,730 people were trained to start businesses, including web and graphic design, bookkeeping, restaurants, dog grooming and bed and breakfasts. But federal Workforce Investment Act funding for this program went away, and we have no state resources to fund it. So DOL stopped enrolling people in 2012.

      The Department of Labor no longer upskills workers through the Governor’s Training Initiative, which was funded at a little more than $3 million in 2004, fell to $501,984 in 2010, then dropped to zero dollars in 2011.

      Just this year, the Legislature swept $2.5 million from the Competitive Skills Scholarship Program fund to balance the budget. This fund, paid by employers through an offset to unemployment taxes, helps low-income individuals train for high-wage, in-demand jobs. That $2.5 million would have trained an additional 360 people in 2014.

      Funding for the Maine Apprenticeship Program fell from a high of $622,907 in 2004 to $436,040 in 2013. In fact, current funding will not meet the needs of the existing sponsors/apprentices in our state.

      Focusing apprenticeship expansion efforts in Maine’s high-growth, high-wage industry sectors—healthcare, energy and precision manufacturing, for example—could increase training opportunities for unemployed or underemployed adults and teens. Apprentices earn while they learn; therefore, these people could be earning wages instead of collecting benefits.

      There are other programs that DOL cannot implement due to a lack of state funding. These are programs that would help develop Maine’s economy by creating a pipeline of skilled workers—something businesses look for when deciding to locate in a state or region.

      The department could offer a subsidized wage program to wean people off unemployment while allowing them to receive on-the-job training in a new career or with a new employer.

      The department could conduct an annual job vacancy survey of employers. This would provide real-time data to ensure that our scarce training resources are invested in skills and occupations that employers are actually looking for and hiring.

      The state could implement the industry partnership program for workforce development—a program included in last year’s budget by the legislature but not funded. Industry partnerships have been effective in other states to leverage private-sector support to develop industry-specific training. Maine’s recent healthcare sector grant showed that we have the ability to do this and our people and our businesses can reap huge rewards from implementing this collaborative training model.

      It’s the same refrain. No money for training. But training is an investment with a return—better jobs with benefits, higher wages and a career ladder for future promotions, economic growth and a brighter future for our children.

      Sadly, Maine has to forego this investment to feed the beast that is DHHS. DOL has utilized best practices and streamlined where ever possible—doing more with less.

      But if Medicaid expansion continues to absorb a greater portion of the state’s General Fund dollars, departments like Labor will ultimately be doing “less with less”—the opposite of the best interests of unemployed and underemployed Maine citizens.

    Commissioner Jeanne S. Paquette brings more than 20 years’ experience in human resources and workforce development to the Department of Labor. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management Maine State Council’s HR Hall of Fame.

———-

Last night progressive site Dirigo Blue broke the news that that either Governor LePage’s office or DHHS enlisted the communications directors from other Maine state agencies to lobby against Medicaid expansion:

lepage sots angry self

  • John Bott – Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
  • Doug Dunbar – Office of Fiscal and Program Review
  • Scott Fish – Department of Corrections
  • David Heidrich – Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS)
  • Jennifer Smith – Department of Administrative and Financial Services
  • Jessamine Logan – Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
  • Stephen McCausland – Department of Public Safety
  • Jeff Nichols – Department of Marine Resources (DMR)
  • Julie Rabinowitz – Department of Labor
  • Ted Talbot – Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Doug Ray – Department of Economic and Community Development
  • Samantha Warren – Department of Education (DOE)

Now this afternoon comes the weekly address from Governor LePage’s office, shared with no embargo. In the past, First Lady Ann LePage has stepped in for her husband on rare occasions, but this address by DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew is an unprecedented move by the administration and signals there will most likely be push back on earlier reports of GOP lawmakers working with their majority Democratic counterparts to expand Medicaid.

Below Mayhew’s radio address are the letters from those communications directors, as shared by LePage’s office last night.

Audio link here. Most Vulnerable Will Keep Paying the Price for Medicaid Expansion

      Most Vulnerable Will Keep Paying the Price for Medicaid Expansion


    Difficult decisions must be made in Augusta. Tough choices are needed to ensure that state government can live within its means and that we can support and care for those who need us most.

    An irate DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew answers questions asked by Rep. Peter Stuckey (D-Portland) on January 14. Beside Mayhew is Gary Alexander, who had previously spoken to the HHS committee about his infamous report denouncing Medicaid expansion.

    An irate DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew answers questions asked by Rep. Peter Stuckey (D-Portland) on January 14. Beside Mayhew is Gary Alexander, who had previously spoken to the HHS committee about his infamous report denouncing Medicaid expansion.

    Hello, this is Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew.

    Currently the Legislature is debating whether to add another 100,000 people to MaineCare, the state’s tax-payer funded healthcare program, at a cost of more than $800 million over the next ten years.

    At the same time, there are thousands of elderly and disabled on waitlists for services to help support them in their homes and in their communities.

    Most of us know someone in this situation. It’s an 80 year old mother who is struggling to care for her 50 year old son with Down syndrome. She needs help today and is worried who will care for her son when she is no longer around.

    It’s the parents of an autistic child who should be celebrating the accomplishment of their child graduating high school. But instead, they are panicked because their child is being placed on an adult waitlist for critical support services. Their child cannot be home alone.

    Maine is one of the oldest states in the country and the demands for services will only be increasing in the years to come. Everyone is worried about how best to care for an elderly parent, grandmother, aunt, or uncle.

    These are real people – the elderly and developmentally disabled – and far too many of them are waiting for services. The state needs more than $45 million to cover the services for these individuals.

    There are tough decisions that must be made in Augusta. We just finished paying off a $750 million debt owed to Maine hospitals because of the unbudgeted costs of the last expansion. We cannot repeat history and expect a different outcome.

    Democrats say that adding 100,000 people to Medicaid is somehow free, but we all know better. Medicaid has grown by more than $1 billion over the last ten years because of previous expansions and the reality of healthcare cost increases. It is nonsensical to believe that after years of financial crisis in Medicaid that the answer today is to add another 100,000 people to the program. Don’t be fooled by efforts to combine expansion with a fancy legislative proposal to manage care in Medicaid. The miraculous savings being advertised are not real and are only thinly veiled efforts to get support for a massive expansion of Medicaid.

    Mayhew fields all questions from Maine media regarding the $900k+ Alexander Report, while Gary Alexander stands silently by. He did not say one word to Maine press, who were instructed by Mayhew that she would be the only one speaking to them about the report.

    Mayhew fields all questions from Maine media regarding the $900k+ Alexander Report, while Gary Alexander stands silently by. He did not say one word to Maine press, who were instructed by Mayhew that she would be the only one speaking to them about the report.

    We do not live in a world of unlimited resources.

    If the state expands Medicaid our elderly and disabled will wait longer for services. That is a price we cannot afford to pay.

    Efforts to contain spending in the Medicaid program should be focused on meeting the needs of our most vulnerable and addressing other critical needs in state government like pay for state employees whose salaries have been frozen for years, investments in career centers to help people find jobs, or really funding education or helping to preserve important industries in Maine like lobstering, natural resources, and farming.

    Government cannot be all things to all people and we must put our most vulnerable citizens’ needs first and ensure that state government is effectively prioritizing our limited resources in the best interests of the future of this state.

    Thank you.

Video of DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew after the HHS Committee hearing on the Alexander report:

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(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.

    DEMOCRATIC STATEMENT ON REPUBLICAN PROPOSAL

    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:

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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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Medicaid Spending is Consuming the General Fund

Posted on February 19, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Audio link here.

Medicaid Spending is Consuming the General Fund

Medicaid spending from Maine’s last expansion of welfare is already crowding out revenue for all other state agencies. Now liberals want to expand welfare again. This will be disastrous for state government.

lepage sots Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

Liberals say that expanding Medicaid is free. They say the federal government will foot the bill. They don’t tell you it would cost Maine taxpayers millions of dollars. On top of that, DHHS would have to hire 90 to 100 new employees to administer the 100,000 people that will join Maine’s welfare rolls.

Folks, nothing is free. The federal government will not pay for all these new state employees. It will not pay for all other administrative costs. This will impact every agency in state government.

We’ve been down this road before. Maine already expanded welfare. Medicaid enrollment more than doubled. Its cost has grown by 1.3 billion dollars. It racked up a welfare debt of 750 million dollars to our hospitals.

Reduced federal money has forced Maine to spend an additional 210 million dollars between 2010 and 2014.

Medicaid now consumes 25 percent of all General Fund revenue. If liberals succeed in expanding welfare again, Medicaid will devour 45 percent of the General Fund.

State government has already eliminated or reduced funding for education, law enforcement, economic development and protection of our natural resources. Quite simply, Medicaid is cannibalizing revenue from all other state agencies.

That means the state cannot fully pay its 55 percent share of local education costs. It cannot hire more Maine State Troopers or repair National Guard facilities. The state cannot adequately promote fishing and hunting programs or conduct scientific marine research on Maine’s fisheries.

The state cannot expand job-training opportunities or properly fund programs for environmental emergencies. Everything the State of Maine does is adversely impacted by Medicaid spending. Now liberals want to expand welfare again.

Expanding welfare a decade did not increase access or improve the quality of care. It did not help uninsured Mainers. Thousands of elderly and disabled are still on waiting lists.

We must help Maine families prosper, improve the business climate and protect our most vulnerable Mainers. We cannot do that while Medicaid is eating up our limited financial resources.

I ask you: “What is different this time around?”

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Maine Governor Paul LePage’s 2014 State of the State Address (VIDEOS, TEXT, PHOTOS)

Posted on February 9, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

speechMaine Governor Paul LePage stood before a joint convention of the 126th Legislature on Tuesday evening and gave his 2014 State of the State Address.

As expected, LePage touched upon a number of topics already known to be potential focal points, touted what some fellow Republicans had earlier described as accomplishments by the administration and put forth some surprising new proposals, including creation of what he described as “Open for Business Zones”, which would benefit large companies with discounted electrical rates, access to Maine capital, decreased tax rates and be free of unions, ie, small in-state “right to work” zones. Few specifics on these zones have yet to be released by the administration other than that covered by the Governor in his address.

LePage surprised lawmakers by calling for a statewide TABOR referendum, similar to the efforts that voters voted down in 2006 and 2009.

He also seized the opportunity to speak before a large television audience as an opportunity to go off script, scolding legislators and deliver much of the same rhetoric that Maine has heard from LePage many times over the past three years in what some labelled a campaign defining moment:

    “Gov. Paul LePage’s third State of the State address was delivered to an assembly of Maine lawmakers, but Tuesday’s 50-minute speech was directed at the two men with the best chance of keeping him out of the Blaine House for another four years.

    Using a television audience and scolding and swaggering rhetoric, LePage laid out broad policy initiatives that have little chance of passing in the Democratic-controlled Legislature but will show Mainers a sharp distinction between his vision for the state and that of his challengers, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler.

    From his vow to create “Open for Business” zones to attract large companies that would be exempt from collective bargaining law, to a war on drugs focused on arrest and prosecution, LePage rolled out sweeping policy initiatives that will serve to define his bid for a second term.

    Even his call for a statewide referendum to ask Maine voters if they want to support $100 million in tax relief in exchange for $100 million in reduced government spending appeared to double as a campaign strategy to mobilize voters.”

Reactions to the governor’s speech by Democrats and a large number of organizations from around the state will be shared in a follow up post.

Full video of the Governor’s address is being shared in 3 parts; this is the first portion.
PART 2 
PART 3
Photos taken from within the House chamber include some from the Democratic leadership press conference held immediately after the conclusion of LePage’s speech.

Text of Governor LePage’s 14 page speech, as prepared for delivery

    Chief Justice Saufley, members of the 126th Legislature, distinguished guests, and my fellow citizens:

    Tonight, I am here to update you, the people of Maine, about the condition of our great state.

    Governor Paul LePage motions to Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley during his State of the State address

    Governor Paul LePage motions to Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley during his State of the State address

    First, I must recognize a few individuals. To my lovely wife Ann and children—please stand—I would not be here tonight without you. Ann, you have made Maine proud as our First Lady.

    Staff Sergeant Douglas Connolly, the military herald this evening, thank you for your courageous service to our state and nation.

    As we thank our men and women in uniform, we are reminded of those who are not with us. Bill Knight greeted thousands of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at Bangor International Airport.

    A World War II veteran, Bill was part of the Greatest Generation. He died on Christmas Day at age 91. He made greeting the troops his life’s most important duty.

    Another veteran who is not here tonight is someone many in this chamber know and respect. Michael Cianchette, who was my chief legal counsel, is now deployed to Afghanistan.

    Mike is truly one of Maine’s best and brightest, and we send him our best wishes for a safe return home. Mike’s lovely wife, Michelle, is here with us tonight. Michelle, please stand.

    Our administration is working hard so young Mainers like Mike and Michelle can continue to live and work in our state. We want our young families to enjoy a growing economy that allows them to prosper and succeed.

    Mainers are a breed apart. Many of us value our individuality. We work hard. We take care of each other.

    I love my state. I am proud to call myself a Mainer. I want every Mainer to succeed and prosper. But Maine is at a crossroads. We have huge challenges.

    Higher taxes and bloated government have not improved our lives. Higher energy costs have not attracted major investments to Maine. More welfare has not led to prosperity. It has not broken the cycle of generational poverty.

    We cannot return to the same failed policies of the past 40 years. We are better than that. We must be bold. We must have the courage to make the tough decisions.

    We can do better. We will do better.

lepage sots angry selfJOBS/ECONOMY

    We must keep our young people in Maine. Recently, I asked some Bowdoin College students, “What can we do to keep you here?” One of them was Gregoire Faucher from Madawaska. He is eager to hear what the future of Maine holds for him. Comment ca va, Gregoire? Ca me fait plasir de vous avoir ici ce soir.

    Unfortunately, Gregoire hears more about job prospects in Boston or New York or even New Hampshire than right here in Maine. He wants to stay in Maine. But he may have to leave to find higher-paying jobs and better opportunities.

    Greg and his classmates are the kind of young people we need to grow our state’s economy. We must create a business climate that encourages investment that will employ Maine people.

    Recruiting job creators to come to Maine is not easy. The global competition is fierce. Investment capital goes where it is welcomed and stays where it is appreciated.

    As Winston Churchill said: “Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.”

    Since we took office, we have made Maine more competitive. Maine’s unemployment rate has fallen to 6.2%. It’s the lowest since 2008. Almost 13,000 new private-sector jobs have been created since we took office.

    We reduced bureaucratic red tape.

    We cut the automatic increase to the gas tax.

    We eliminated almost $2 billion in pension debt.

    We right-sized government.

    We found efficiencies within state agencies. My proudest achievement: paying $750 million in welfare debt to Maine’s hospitals. It sent the message that, in Maine, we pay our bills.

    Because of our efforts, good-paying jobs are being created all over the state.

    • In Portland, the Eimskip shipping service.
    • In Wilton, Barclaycards.
    • In Brunswick, Tempus Jets.
    • In Nashville Plantation, Irving Forest Products.

    More jobs have been added at such world-class companies as:

    • Maine Wood Concepts in New Vineyard.
    • Molnlycke Health Care in Wiscasset.
    • Hinckley Yachts in Trenton.

    We are a state of entrepreneurial “doers.” There are 40,000 small businesses in Maine. Our state has roughly 130,000 microbusinesses. They employ 170,000 people. They drive our economy. If they could each add one more job, that would transform our economy.

    Nicole Snow of Sebec is a very successful micro-entrepreneur. She created Darn Good Yarn, and she does all of her business online. Nicole is growing her company into a million-dollar business—thanks to the internet. Nicole, please stand.

    Having spent my career in business, I know what grows an economy. But there is a major push by many in this chamber to maintain the status quo.

    Liberal politicians are taking us down a dangerous path—a path that is unsustainable. They want a massive expansion of Maine’s welfare state. Expanded welfare does not break the cycle of generational poverty. It breaks the budget.

    In 1935 during the height of the Great Depression, FDR—the father of the New Deal—warned against welfare dependency. He said: “To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit … The federal government must and shall quit this business of relief.”

    Big, expensive welfare programs riddled with fraud and abuse threaten our future. Too many Mainers are dependent on government handouts.

    Government dependency has not—and never will—create prosperity.

lepage 126th wholeMEDICAID EXPANSION

    Maine expanded welfare over a decade ago. Now MaineCare alone is consuming 25 percent of our General Fund dollars. The result?

    We are taking money away from:

    • Mental health services
    • Nursing homes
    • Job training
    • Education
    • Roads
    • Law enforcement
    • Natural resources

    Maine’s welfare expansion resulted in 750 million dollars of hospital debt. We just paid it off. Some want to repeat that mistake.

    Look at the facts. Welfare expansion will cost Mainers at least $800 million over the next decade. It will cost Maine taxpayers over $150 million in the next three years. Maine’s current welfare system is failing:

    • Our children
    • Our elderly
    • Our disabled
    • Our mentally ill

    Thousands of our most vulnerable citizens are on waitlists for services. They need your compassion.

    Michael Levasseur of Carmel has autism and needs care 24/7. Michael is here tonight with his parents, Cynthia and Paul. Cynthia had to quit her job to care for her son, and they had to downsize their house to make ends meet.

    With services, Michael could get a job coach, assisted-living accommodations and participate in a day program. Maine lawmakers must address these waiting lists. Michael deserves your compassion.

    We must set priorities on who will get services with our limited resources. Money may grow on trees in Washington, D.C., but we cannot count on promises of federal windfalls to pay for our services.

    Let’s be clear. Maine will not get 100 percent federal funding for welfare expansion. Maine already expanded. That means the federal government would give us less money than other states that are expanding now.

    Adding another hundred thousand people to our broken welfare system is insanity. It is unaffordable. It is fiscally irresponsible. Expanding welfare is a bad deal for working Mainers who have to foot the bill.

    Liberals believe that giving free health care to able-bodied adults, while leaving our most vulnerable in the cold, is compassionate. I disagree.

    We must show compassion for all Maine people. We must protect our hard-working families from the higher insurance premiums and higher taxes that will result from further expansion. Do not focus on the next election. You must focus on the next generation.

GOP rises to applaud as LePage restates his views on EBT fraud, which his own documentation found to be at a rate of 0.2%.

GOP rises to applaud as LePage restates his views on EBT fraud, which his own documentation found to be at a rate of 0.2%.

WELFARE REFORM


    We owe the next generation a society that provides them with prosperity and opportunity, not welfare and entitlements.

    I will not tolerate the abuse of welfare benefits. Maine’s limited resources must be reserved for the truly needy. Maine EBT cards provide cash for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This cash is supposed to purchase household items for needy children.

    Every dollar that goes to buy cigarettes, alcohol or lottery tickets is a dollar taken away from a needy child, family or others who need services.

    My proposal will prohibit TANF funds from being used for alcohol, tobacco, gambling and other adult entertainment. We will limit the use of Maine EBT cards to Maine—not Hawaii, not Florida.

    If you want to ask the taxpayers for money, you should make a good-faith effort to get a job first. We will require those seeking welfare, if able, to look for a job before applying for TANF benefits.

    Maine taxpayers are being punished because our welfare program far exceeds the federal guidelines. Maine has been so lenient with its work exemptions, the federal government has fined us millions of dollars in penalties. We must eliminate exemptions that excuse TANF recipients from work.

    There is no excuse for able-bodied adults to spend a lifetime on welfare at the expense of hard-working, struggling Mainers. That is not what I call compassion. As John F. Kennedy said in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” These are words that still ring true today.

EDUCATION

    I know generational poverty. But I escaped generational poverty, and lived the American Dream. Some caring Maine families took me in from the streets of Lewiston and gave me the guidance I needed to succeed.

    I have said it many times. Education saved my life. Throwing money at poverty will not end poverty. Education and mentoring will end poverty.

    Our bridge year programs are providing educational opportunities for Maine students. The Business Academy in Biddeford recently presented 33 students with a total of 126 college credits. We saved these students thousands of dollars in college tuition.

    In Fort Kent, 17 students have completed their freshman year at college upon graduating high school.

    This spring, students in Hermon will graduate high school with diplomas and technical proficiencies and trade licenses. Many lawmakers, the union and school superintendents have opposed our reforms at every step. But I vow to always put our students and our teachers first.

lepage sotsINFRASTRUCTURE

    To strengthen Maine’s economy, we must invest our resources to improve infrastructure, reduce taxes and lower energy costs for homeowners and businesses. Industry needs infrastructure to move goods and services at the speed of business.

    Over the next three years, MaineDOT will invest over $2 billion in infrastructure improvements.

    We will repair or replace 54 bridges and reconstruct hundreds of miles of state roads. We will improve our ports, rail, airports and transit infrastructure. The plan supports over 25,000 jobs in highway and bridge projects. Thousands more jobs will be supported by the plan’s investments in ports, rail, ferries and buses. That’s putting Maine to work.

ENERGY


    But we still face barriers that make Maine less competitive. Heating and electricity costs remain a major obstacle.

    Our homeowners spend well over $3,000 a year to heat their homes. That’s nearly double the national average. Maine families know that this winter has been more challenging than most.

    Distribution of natural gas expanded this year in Southern and Central Maine. Mainers are saving more than a thousand dollars a year by converting to natural gas.

    More funding is now available to help Mainers convert to more affordable heating systems. These systems include wood pellets, advanced oil systems, natural gas systems, energy efficiency improvements, heat pumps – anything that will cut costs for Maine homes.

    High electricity costs make it very difficult to attract business. My administration is working to expand pipeline capacity from Pennsylvania to take full advantage of the natural gas supplies in that state.

    Also, our neighbors in Quebec have the best clean-energy resources on the planet. My Administration is fighting for access to this cost-effective and clean source of electricity along with the rest of New England.

    Many lawmakers have chosen to support powerful special interest groups over the needs of Maine’s ratepayers. Let’s be clear. I do not favor one form of energy over another. I am on the side of those who want to lower the costs for working Maine families. Whose side are you on?

“OPEN FOR BUSINESS ZONES”


    Tonight I am proposing a bold new idea to attract companies that will invest more than $50 million and create more than 1,500 jobs.

    My proposal will offer valuable incentives for companies that choose to locate in certain areas. They are called “Open for Business Zones.”

    “Open for Business Zones” will offer discounted electricity rates; employment tax benefits; and provide access to capital.

    Companies in these zones will get assistance to help recruit and train workers.

    Employees in these zones will not be forced to join labor unions. They will not be forced to pay dues or fees to labor unions. This will allow Maine to compete with right-to-work states.

    Companies in these zones must show preference to Maine workers, companies and bidders.

    Our proposal combines the kinds of incentives that other states have used successfully to attract major investment. We must be able to compete with them. We must be bold.

    We must show young people like Gregoire that we are serious about providing good-paying jobs and opportunities for him and his classmates.

TAX REFORM

    States with the highest economic growth often have the lowest overall tax burdens.

    We are working hard to combat Maine’s reputation as a high-tax state. We passed the largest tax cut in Maine’s history. Two-thirds of Maine taxpayers will get income-tax relief. Liberals call it a “tax break for the rich.” But 70,000 low-income Mainers will no longer pay income tax.

    We cut taxes for the working poor. This is compassion. We put money in people’s pockets. We told the business community we are serious about tax reform. I am proud of the progress we made. But we need to do more.

    Our tax system is out of date. It is not competitive with other states. So let’s ask Mainers in a statewide referendum if they want to lower taxes.

    We must lower our income tax rates and eliminate the estate tax to bring Maine’s tax system into the 21st century. This would make Maine more attractive for people to work and raise their families here. It would encourage retirees to stay in Maine.

    This will protect our working-class families from bearing an unfair tax burden.

    My proposal also includes a limit on the growth of state spending. This will provide much-needed relief to Maine’s taxpayers.

    Let’s stop arguing about tax reform. Let’s ask the people who really matter. Let’s ask Maine’s hardworking taxpayers. We will ask Mainers a simple question at a statewide referendum. We will ask if they want to lower taxes by at least $100 million and reduce state spending by at least $100 million.

    We think Mainers want tax relief. Let’s give them the option to decide.

1000 mile stare

ADDRESSING MAINE’S DRUG PROBLEM

    Finally, we must confront a troubling epidemic. It is tearing at the social fabric of our communities. While some are spending all their time trying to expand welfare, we are losing the war on drugs.

    927 drug-addicted babies were born last year in Maine. That’s more than 7 percent of all births.

    Each baby addicted to drugs creates a lifelong challenge for our health care system, schools and social services. The average cost for drug-addicted births in 2009 was $53,000. Welfare programs covered nearly 80 percent of those increased charges.

    More important than cost are the effects to these innocent children. I am deeply concerned about the suffering and long-term consequences these newborns are subject to. It is unacceptable to me that a baby should be born affected by drugs.

    We must show them our compassion.

    There were 163 drug-induced deaths in Maine in 2012. The use of heroin is increasing. Four times as many people died from a heroin overdose in 2012 than in 2011.

    Over 20 percent of the homicides in 2012 were related to illegal drugs. We must address the problem of drug addiction and drug trafficking. We must act now.

    We need to fully fund the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. Our police chiefs tell us local law enforcement officials need more resources to fight the drug problem in our state. Auburn Police Chief Phil Crowell is the president of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. He is here tonight to show that the chiefs fully support our administration’s war on Maine’s drug problem. I am pleased the county sheriffs also enthusiastically support our initiative.

    As Henry Ford said: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” The judicial, executive and legislative branches joined forces in an effort to eradicate domestic violence from our state. We need to come together once again to combat Maine’s drug problem.

    My proposal adds four new special drug prosecutors and four new judges to sit in enhanced drug courts in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston and Portland.

    Since local agencies do not have the manpower or resources they need to fight Maine’s drug problem, we will add 14 MDEA agent positions.

    We must hunt down dealers and get them off the streets. We must protect our citizens from drug-related crimes and violence. We must save our babies from lifelong suffering.

CONCLUSION

    In closing, I welcome common-sense solutions from anyone who wants to put Maine on the right path. Success doesn’t happen by doing nothing.

    Bring me bold solutions. Put your politics aside. Fight for the future of Maine’s children. We must show them the path to succeed.

    God Bless Maine and God Bless America. Now, let’s get to work.

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