Lawmakers are meeting in Augusta this afternoon to discuss the LePage administration’s decision to hire an outside consultant to review Maine’s Medicaid program. The Health and Human Services committee will consider the nearly $1 million no-bid contract for the Alexander Group. Early Tuesday morning at an event at Thomas College, LePage defended his decision not to send DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew or anyone else from his administration to the hearing.
“This is what you need to tell them. In the state government we have three equal but separate branches of government. Today they’re having a legislative meeting. This morning I had a cabinet meeting, the Executive branch had a meeting. I didn’t invite the legislature. And when the Chief Justice has a meeting she doesn’t invite me. So we’re equal branches but we’re separate. So I think it’s appropriate for them to have a meeting and I don’t see why, I don’t understand why Commissioner Mayhew needs to be there,” LePage said.
Gary Alexander’s group was hired to address the financial issues in Maine’s Medicaid program and study whether the state has the capacity to expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul. Democrats say Alexander’s contentious welfare-cutting policies in other states have hurt low-income people. Some have accused the governor of “cronyism.”
“They call him my crony. I know Justin Alfond more than I know him. I don’t know, I didn’t hire him, DHHS did…I don’t know much about what they did so,” LePage said Tuesday. The governor repeatedly defended the decision to have Mayhew skip the hearing saying it was unnecessary for her to be there.
“I mean they have the report. If they need teaching, someone to help them read it, that’s a different ballgame. I can send an English Teacher or something if they need it. But as far as understanding it, it’s written in English. They can agree or disagree. That’s what it is,” LePage said.
LePage was then asked he felt the Democrats were playing politics.
“What do you think? You said it not me. It’s politics at its best…These people have become very dishonest.”
The Health and Human Services Committee is expected to take up the matter at 1:30.