LePage: some opposition to Medicaid expansion is "philosophical"

6:53 PM, Feb 19, 2014   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- More groups are beating the drum this week to call for expanding the state's Maine Care program.

There were press events by separate groups in Augusta and Bangor today and a third plans to deliver petitions to the Statehouse tomorrow.

Today the American Cancer Society, Maine Lung Association and American heart Association joined forces support Medicaid expansion. They say people with chronic illnesses, like cancer or heart disease, need regular medical treatment to fight those diseases. And the groups say insuring more people will save the state money.

But Governor Paul LePage insists it will cost more and take money from other state needs. The Governor and his staff have been hitting on the budget issue for nearly a week, saying Medicaid now accounts for 25% of the state's general fund budget. The Governor says the current cost of that program is taking money away from other stat5e needs, and that if Maine Care is expanding the share of the budget will increase.

Democratic leaders say the budget is not being hurt by Medicaid costs, but by tax cuts passed by the Governor and Republicans three years ago.

Gov. LePage also said he believes more people need to work and be self-reliant, instead of relying on government support, and that philosophy is part of the reason for his continued opposition to expanding Maine Care.

A group of Legislators continues to work in private, trying to come up with a Medicaid compromise. They hope it will be able to attract enough Republican votes to overcome a certain veto from the Governor. There's no word yet when the issue might come to a vote.

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