AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Democratic leaders in the Legislature say they expect to vote next week on that controversial plan to expand the state's MaineCare program. And it looks like the compromise plan unveiled yesterday by a small group of moderate Republicans will become the bill that's voted on.
Medicaid, or MaineCare, was a prime topic in the hallways of the Statehouse on Wednesday, and much of the talk was fueled by that compromise plan rolled out by GOP Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta and Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton. It would approve the huge expansion of the Medicaid program, but would also require everyone in the program to change over to a managed care health system. Under managed care, for-profit or non-profit businesses would charge a flat fee to take care of everyone on Medicaid, instead of charging a fee each time a patient receives services. Supporters of the plan says it would make Medicaid costs predictable, which they have not been for many years. They also claim it would save money, and those savings could be used to help provide more services to thousands of elderly and disabled people often referred to as the "wait list".
Katz and Saviello told NEWS CENTER on Wednesday they had heard a lot of positive comments about the plan, though not many from fellow Republicans. GOP House leader Rep. Ken Fredette told a group of party members from Cumberland County the compromise plan still expands Maine Care, so he is opposed to it.
The LePage Administration called a press conference to repeat the statements they have made for several weeks that current Medicaid spending is squeezing out other needed state programs.
Commissioners of Marine Resources, Agriculture /Conservation and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife all stated that Medicaid spending is taking needed resources away from their programs, and that expansion will m make it worse. Maine DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew called the compromise a "thinly veiled" effort to get support for expansion.
Democratic leaders say the Katz-Saviello plan will become the bill they bring to a vote next week. Several moderate Republicans say there is a group of roughly 16 lawmakers who are "on the fence" about the Maine Care3 expansion, and their votes are likely to decide the issue.