LePage Vows To Veto Hospital Repayment-Medicaid Expansion Bill – $105 Million In Bonds Now In Jeopardy 

Governor LePage’s office says he will veto a bill moving through the Legislature to pay off a $484 million debt to Maine hospitals because of an amendment Democrats attached to it that would expand Medicaid. LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said Wednesday that she would anticipate a veto if the bill, in its present form, is sent to the governor. LePage and other Republicans say the bill was rammed through by the Democratic majority with an amendment to expand Medicaid services without sufficient review of that move.The Republicans want the issues of repaying the hospitals – a top priority of LePage – considered separately from Medicaid expansion.Also in jeopardy are the $105 million in voter approved bonds that LePage says he won’t release until lawmakers pass his hospital plan with no strings attached. LePage said he’s holding off on the release of the bonds because the state needs to pay off its existing debt before taking on anymore. “There is a scenario that the hospitals may not get paid,” Bennett said Wednesday. “Democrats are putting jobs on the line at that point. We already know that we’re getting onto the construction season. A lot of the projects that would have been funded by the bonds, 105 million in general obligation bonds are gonna be off the table.” Democrats have been calling on the governor to release those bonds for months but LePage has refused saying he doesn’t think the Democrats will pass his plan once those bonds are released. “That’s the only way to get them to don anything, you have to threaten them,” LePage told reporters a few months ago.Assistant House Minority Leader Jeff McCabe, a Skowhegan Democrat, accuses the governor of choosing politics over people.”The bonds that were already voted for by the voters and approved, the governor could have released those anytime. You know he’s decided to hold those hostage which is just bizarre,” McCabe said Wednesday. “I think it’s almost too late to put people back to work for this construction season which is very disappointing. The governor has continued to use the construction industry as pawns in a political game.” The House gave the bill final approval Wednesday, leaving only a final Senate vote which is likely Thursday. Now that it’s a foregone conclusion the governor will veto the bill and the Democrats don’t have the votes to override the governor’s veto, this stalemate doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon. (The Associated Press Also Contributed To This Report)