Hospitals are lobbying state lawmakers to begin paying off Maine’s Medicaid debt. The state owes hospitals $186 million dating back to 2009 and officials say the debt must be paid to free up nearly $300 million in matching federal funds. Some hospitals say the lack of reimbursement has forced them to cut stuff, delay capital improvements or borrow money for operating costs. Chuck Gill, a spokesman for Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, tells the Portland Press Herald, the hospital is still waiting to be paid for care that was provided two or three years ago. Hospitals are meeting with lawmakers and have run ads in newspapers. The effort comes even as the Legislature prepares to grapple with a projected $120 million shortfall in the current budget for MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program.