Legislators React To LePage’s Medicaid Expansion Plan Veto 

For the second time, Governor LePage has vetoed a bill to expand Medicaid to nearly 70,000 Mainers, with the federal government picking up the tab the next three years.The first time the measure was tied to hospital debt repayment.The bill he vetoed on Monday night was a stand alone measure.In a letter to legislators, Governor LePage explained his decision to veto the medicaid expansion bill.He wrote, “In the early 2000s, Maine began a massive increase in welfare expansion. The goal was to provide health care for those without insurance through government-sponsored care. This was very well-meaning, tugging at the heart-strings of people across the political spectrum. Unfortunately, it did not work.” He says expansion led to massive hospital debt and Mainers leaving the insurance market for what he calls “free healthcare.”The governor sums up his decision writing, “Now is not the time to push forward on expansion. Maine must negotiate with Washington to ensure that our citizens and taxpayers are protected. We need flexibility in our program to improve delivery and root out fraud and abuse…Quite simply, Maine can do better.””It’s disappointing that the Governor has vetoed this opportunity, this great opportunity for the state of Maine. I think we’ve structured this bill in a way that creates a safeguard to ensure that we accept the funds, that we ensure that it’s going to be sustainable after three years. We provide jobs. We create heath care for 70,000 people. It is a win win for the state of Maine,” said Senate President Justin Alfond (D). The bill is now back in the House for an override vote.Democrats are doing what they can behind the scenes to convince Republicans to vote with them. Last week, votes to pass the bill fell short of the two-thirds necessary to override the Governor’s decision. “We’re really calling on our Republican House Members to do the right thing, override the governors veto. Provide 70,000 mainers with health care and provide jobs, much needed jobs to communities that need them and millions of dollars to the state of Maine,” said House Speaker Mark Eves (D). “I’m going to predict at the end of the day they’re not going to get enough votes to override the governors veto and again I think that will mean an end to the issue of Medicaid expansion,” said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette.