Let’s Check In On Paul LePage

Written by SK Ashby

A coalition of individuals and groups have filed a lawsuit against Maine Governor Paul LePage because he has refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

Ordinarily, the governor would not be obligated to do so, but nearly 60 percent of Maine voted in favor of expanding Medicaid and Paul LePage is refusing to follow the law.

From the Bangor Daily News:

The lawsuit against the Maine Department of Health and Human Services was filed Monday in Kennebec County Superior Court by Maine Equal Justice Partners, a progressive anti-poverty group, health groups and individuals who would be eligible for coverage in July under the law.

Maine became the first state to pass expansion under the Affordable Care Act at the ballot box in 2017, where 59 percent of voters backed it. But LePage — who has five times vetoed Medicaid expansion efforts passed by the Legislature — has blocked it thus far.

LePage has said he will not expand Medicaid unless state legislators agree to fund the expansion without raising taxes or using existing, available funds.

In other words, LePage wants to see the legislature cut other important programs to pay for Medicaid expansion.

The federal government is still required to cover over 90 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion and only 70,000 residents of Maine are expected to qualify so we're not talking about a large amount of money. LePage just doesn't want to expand the program. This isn't about cost.

It's been a long time since I've had to spell this out, but federal taxpayers living in Maine are already paying for Medicaid expansion even if they can't participate in it. Paul LePage and other Republican governors who still haven't expanded the program are not saving their residents any money. It would be more accurate to say GOP governors are costing them money.

Refusing to expand Medicaid also increases health care costs for everyone else in the state.