Maine Finance Commissioner Blames Medicaid For Budget Hole 

Maine’s finance chief says 90% of the latest hole in the budget is caused by Medicaid spending. Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett briefed lawmakers today on the $119 million budget gap.

Millett says the Medicaid shortfall is smaller than it’s been in past years. He says it’s caused by increased use of things like residential services and hospital outpatient care by MaineCare patients, as well as the failure of some savings initiatives to meet their targets.

Meanwhile, Governor LePage and Democrats continue to trade barbs over where the blame lies for the shortfall.

Democrats say it’s due to DHHS mismanagement.

“We budgeted for our expenditures last year and we have actually have reductions in clientele that were receiving MaineCare and we should have been saving money,” said Lewiston Democrat Margaret Craven, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee.

The governor says the state is spending too much on welfare. A problem LePage says he’s having a tough time fixing.

“Let me tell you about my power with the budget. I have put two biennial budgets in and six supplementals and I’ve had to veto most of every one because they changed them. So I have no power when it comes to this legislature. They do what they damn well please,” LePage told reporters Tuesday.

DHHS is not the only department having money trouble. The Department of Education and the Department of Corrections are also facing shortfalls.