Republican Senator: Committee Leaning Toward LePage Plan To Re-Pay Hospitals 

After months of bickering, lawmakers in Augusta are inching closer to finalizing a plan to repay Maine’s hospitals $484 million in Medicaid debt. The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee was scheduled to continue their discussions on the issue Friday, but in a move that surprised even some committee members, the matter was put off until next week. “We will not be discussing anything on liquor today. So I wanted to let everybody know, those of you that are here,” said Committee Chair Senator John Tuttle, a Sanford Democrat.The announcement frustrated Republicans on the committee who say they’re in the home stretch of getting this done. “I am a little frustrated,” said Androscoggin County Republican Senator Garret Mason. “I think we could have had some valuable conversations towards the end of how this is going to to turn out.”Mason said the committee as a whole is leaning toward supporting the plan put forth by Governor LePage and not the Democratic counter proposal. “I think the committee is headed towards the direction of 239, which is the governor’s bill,” Mason said. “I think right now everything’s been debated that needs to be debated. There’s two definite ways the committee can go on this. I think we’re all headed in the same direction on this. It’s unfortunate we can’t get that done today.”Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall, who submitted the counter proposal, says he’s scheduled to meet with Governor LePage and Republican Senator Pat Flood, who sponsored the governor’s plan, on Monday. “The committee actually agreed on Wednesday that there’s a lot of commonality between the two proposals and they’re going to start putting those together.”If all goes well, a hospital repayment bill could be headed to the House floor as soon as next week. Once the governor signs off, he’s promised to release $105 million in voter approved bonds earmarked for projects all over the state. Projects the Democrats say are “shovel ready.” It appears that money will arrive in time to get those projects underway this construction season. “The important thing is we pay the hospitals off and people get back to work,” Goodall said.To view Governor LePage’s plan: view Senator Goodall’s and the Democratic Counter Proposal: