Engage Maine Calls LePage MaineCare Cuts Illegal 

A progressive coalition took aim at Governor LePage and specifically his proposed MaineCare cuts in Augusta Wednesday. The group, known as Engage Maine, offered up what they call reasonable solutions. Engage Maine called LePage’s MaineCare cuts irresponsible and in some cases illegal. The group claims three of the governor’s proposals violate the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress last year. “Those are specifically the elimination of coverage for the 19-20 year-olds, for parents between 100% and 133% of the federal poverty level, and the eligibility cut for the Medicare savings program. So it’s very clear those would violate federal law at this point,” said Anne Hicks from Maine Equal Justice. Engage Maine said a small percentage of those enrolled MaineCare account for a significant amount of the cost. “Five percent of MaineCare enrollees account for 55% of program costs,” said Engage Maine Executive Director Ben Dudley. “We can better manage care, and enact payment reform that will improve outcomes and save money.”Part of their proposal calls for a more aggressive care management system for those people to avoid more costly procedures down the road. They also want a system in place to collect money owed to MaineCare from private insurers and the Department of Veterans Affairs.Another proposal from Engage Maine would change Maine’s tax code that they say would help balance the budget. “We should restore Maine’s 2010 tax rate for people earning more than $200,000 per year,” Dudley said, “and ask the top 1%, those who earn on average more than $733,000 per year, to pay their fair share with a new plan that ensures their tax rates are not lower than Maine’s working families.”LePage spokesperson Adrienne Bennett dismissed the group’s proposal and the claims that part of LePage’s plan is illegal. “These are wild accusations and it’s clear that this group wants to hang their hat on technicalities of a failing welfare system,” Bennett said, before adding that Governor LePage is focused on creating a sustainable system that Maine can afford, a system that protects the most vulnerable people in Maine. “The reality is we have a governor that has introduced a plan that will work for all Mainers,” Bennett said. “He’s saving a system. He’s saving benefits for more than 280,000 people.”Engage Maine faces an uphill battle trying to get their proposal to pass a Republican lead House of Representatives and Senate. They say they’ll first take their case to the Maine people. “Well, I think our first job is to persuade Maine people that there is another way to approach this,” Dudley said. “The proposal that they’re currently being asked to consider, their representatives are being asked to consider, is more destructive to our communities and our economy.”