Governor LePage Says He Won't Implement Medicaid Expansion Law As Is

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Question 2 on Tuesday's ballot was the citizen initiative about Medicaid expansion.

Nearly 60% of Maine voters said 'yes.'

Medicaid expansion had the strongest support through southern portions of the state and the coast.

Governor LePage had vetoed five different attempts by lawmakers to expand the program.

Wednesday, the governor said his administration won't be implementing the law as is.

Democrats are making it clear that despite LePage's resistance, they intend to fully and faithfully implement this law approved by voters.

"We estimate nearly 70,000 Mainers will now qualify for health insurance under expansion of Medicaid," said Rep. Sara Gideon, (D) Speaker of the House.

Question 2, passed by Maine voters, requires the state government to provide MaineCare for those under the age of 65 and with incomes equal to or below 138% of the poverty line.

"Mainers want to make sure that they start to actually take advantage of the federal dollars that were earmarked for the 1.3 million people in this state to keep healthcare costs low," said Gideon.

While House Republicans say they intend to abide by the will of the voter, they won't be doing so at the expense of working Maine families.

"How do you pay for it? I think House Republicans are going to take a very firm position that this not be paid for with tax increases or raiding the rainy day fund," said Rep. Ken Fredette, (R) House Republican Leader.

The LePage administration announced it won't be implementing Medicaid expansion until it has been fully funded by the legislature at the levels DHHS has calculated.

Governor LaPage says the last time Maine experimented with Medicaid expansion in 2002 it created a $750 million debt to hospitals, resulted in massive budget shortfalls every year, and did not reduce the number of uninsured Mainers.

Maine voters approved the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, making it the first state in the nation to settle the issue by referendum.

"I think this referendum process quite frankly is out of control, and I think what it does is it continues to challenge what we're trying to do in Augusta- which is try to set a strategic framework for Mainers to be able to stay and work in Maine, keep those businesses in Maine," said Fredette.

Democrats say as the governor and other Question 2 opponents try to overturn the voters' will, they'll be working to implement the law as soon as they return to session.

"They finally got a chance to vote on it themselves, and they voted for it overwhelmingly. And all this bull that we hear today about not implementing it, putting out press releases and all that, well I'm here to say we are going to implement it. We are going to put it forward because this something that the people spoke clearly about and it's something that they think they deserve," said Senator Troy Jackson, (D) Senate Democratic Leader.

Governor LePage maintains the law will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to give free health care to working-age, able-bodied adults.