Members of the legislature are currently debating two bills – one that would expand Medicaid in the state and one that would repay the state’s outstanding Medicaid debt to 39 hospitals.
Unfortunately many Democrats are attempting to force Maine into Medicaid expansion by linking the fate of the two bills together. They contend that expanding Medicaid will ensure the state does not wind up in this situation again by keeping health care costs down. This assertion is misguided. These two bills are separate and should be voted on independently.
First of all, we should not go back on the agreement to repay the state’s hospital debt. Not paying Maine hospitals for hip replacements done years ago unless current legislators agree to expand a program that will bust future budgets hurts everyone. The legislators should not use past due payments to our hospitals as leverage to expand a program that is already broken and bloated.
Secondly, Maine has already chosen to expand Medicaid in 2002 and the results were not good.
Within two years of expanding Medicaid, enrollment was more than double what had been predicted, but between 2002 and 2011 the uninsured rate remained the same. As a result, there are thousands of people who are poor and disabled on waiting lists now because Maine can’t afford to give them the access they need after expanding Medicaid to those not disabled.
Maine’s Medicaid safety net has been stretched to the point that the people it was meant to save are falling out of the bottom and onto waiting lists. And now some legislators are calling to expand this program which has clearly failed so many of our state’s residents?
Medicaid expansion has proven to be a budget buster.
We know from experience that the federal government is good at making promises but not as good at keeping them. They are promising to pay for Medicaid expansion in Maine but that promise should sound familiar. Many years ago the Federal Government promised states that they would fund 60% of Special Education costs if the states followed all of the regulations. That promise was broken – they have never funded at that rate.
Expanding Medicaid based on a promise from a cash strapped federal government that doesn’t have the money to open Acadia National Park on schedule will put even more Maine people at risk. When, not if, the federal dollars run out for Medicaid expansion, we will all be left paying the bill.
Medicaid expansion was a bad deal for our state in the past and will prove to be a bad deal in the future. Therefore, we should reject the Medicaid expansion deal being offered in the present.
I encourage you to contact your legislators using THIS LINK and urge them to oppose expanding Medicaid in Maine.