Maine House Approves Bill to Pay Hospital Debt 

The Maine House has approved a bill that would pay off Maine’s $484 million debt to the state’s hospitals, agreeing to go along with a Democrat-backed amendment calling for the state to accept federal money to expand Medicaid to roughly 70,000 people. After a debate that went on for about four hours, the bill won approval by an 87-57 vote Tuesday night. The vote followed Senate approval earlier in the day of the bill, which faces final votes in both chambers. The measure would pay the state’s $186 million share of the hospital debt for past Medicaid services with money from future state liquor sales. It would also authorize expansion of Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act. Majority Democrats say the time is right to do that. Republicans say there’s no guarantee federal funding will continue over the long term and the bill could cost the state more money.