AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- During their hearing Monday morning, Senate President Justin Alfond mentioned that democrats have always made it a priority to pay down the $1.5 billion debt owed to Maine hospitals.
He says the govenor's plan to make the final payment this year by using money from liquor sales was well intentioned but flawed. He says it burdens taxpayers, and doesn't address the real problem: how the state got into debt with hospitals to begin with, which inspired democrats to make their own plan.
This plan does call for a complete overhaul of the healthcare system, including medicaid expansion, getting up to 70-thousand more mainers on insurance. Governor LePage announced this morning that he is in talks with the federal government about that expansion, a change in tone for him, but he still says this bill is not the place for it.
The Democratic plan also calls for transparency in billing, making sure the state knows exactly what they're paying for - every bandaid and every conference room - and a change in the way patients are billed; instead of a cost for each procedure, why not pay for a positive outcome? Quality over quantity.
Their plan would pay off hospitals by September 30th. Both plans could essentially save taxpayers $5-million in interest, and trigger a federal match of nearly $300-million.
The committee says they'll take what they've heard from Monday's testimony and start holding work sessions next week.