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During an interview on WVOM radio this morning, Maine's Gov. Paul LePage (R) promised to veto every bill passed by the Legislature until the state pays hospitals what they are owed in back Medicaid payments.

Maine's 39 hospitals are owed $484 million in overdue Medicaid reimbursements, dating back nearly a decade.

During the interview with hosts Ric Tyler and George Hale, LePage said:

I'm meeting with the Senate President today and I'm gonna lay out a little plan that I have: every single bill that is passed now until the hospital payment is passed is gonna be vetoed. If they don't want to run government - if we can pass an overnight conceal weapon and we can pass bills - emergency bills - to open uh, to open - on St. Patty's Day we can open bars at 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on a Sunday, that's more important than paying the hospitals then I think we have a problem. If they don't want to pay the hospitals, if they can pass legislation in 24 hours, I don't see why the hospitals haven't been passed and the money not in the hands of the hospitals, and until they move forward on that, I'm not moving forward on any legislation.

Nothing. And I don't care if it's my bills. I'll veto my own bills.

Listen to the entire segment here. WVOM is your typical right wing talk radio station.

Gov. LePage has a bill before the Legislature that would renegotiate the state's liquor contract with the hope of raising enough money to settle the Medicaid debt. Medicaid is known as MaineCare in Maine.

The Legislature recently enacted a $153 million supplemental budget that will leave the state's books balanced at the end of the fiscal year, 30 June 2013. Gov. LePage refused to sign the bill, which became law despite that.

Gov. LePage has had a mercurial two years in office, sometimes angering members of his own party. After Democrats regained control of both chambers of the Legislature last November, many have expected things in Augusta to become even more contentious. Last week, speaking in regards to negotiations about to begin on the next biennial budget that begins on 1 July 2013, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R) suggested that shutting down the state government is a possibility.

Ben Grant, chair of the Maine Democratic Party, released this statement in response to Gov. LePage's veto threat:

From Washington to Maine, we’re seeing the same political strategy by Republicans. Create a crisis and use it as a bargaining chip to get what they want. We’ve seen it employed over and over again by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell in Washington and now we’re seeing the same strategy play out in Maine politics. First it was Fredette threatening to shut state government down and now it’s Paul LePage threatening to veto any bill until he gets what he wants.

It’s time for us to stop pretending that the Republican Party wants to do what’s best for this country and this State and realize that all they really want to do is undermine government and it’s ability to meet the needs of Maine people. Today there is only one legitimate party that is trying to do the people’s work, that's the Democratic Party.

Update: At the Maine Fishermen's Forum this morning, Gov. LePage was asked about his promise made earlier on WVOM. Just watch:

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is not the first time LePage has made such (4+ / 0-)

    Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

    by Spud1 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 10:39:01 AM PST

  •  Paul LePage (R-Insane) is an embarrassment (5+ / 0-)

    To Maine. He's trying to litter our beautiful roadways with billboards as well. Mr. 38% is quite a disaster to "The way life should be."

    "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Matthew 5:11

    by parsonsbeach on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 10:52:05 AM PST

  •  Paying hospitals for indigent care costs (3+ / 0-)

    sounds more like a Democratic priority.

     I am confused about why an R governor (even an offbeat one) is grandstanding over this while a D legislature has allegedgly been dodging it.  

    What's really going on?  It's Dems who fund safety nets.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 11:12:15 AM PST

    •  Hospitals are rolling in cash (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Even non-profit hospitals...heck, especially non-profit hospitals, are absolutely awash in cash. I don't know the merits of LePage's arguments, although since it's LePage I doubt there are any merits, but as a general principal most hospitals are as deserving of pity as the average oil company. Hospital administrators make Wall Street bankers look like Mother Teresa.

      There's a lengthy article in the March 4 issue of Time. Take a look. It's appalling the way they screw people, especially the uninsured.

      The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

      by Korkenzieher on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 11:29:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't work for a hospital but I work WITH one (4+ / 0-)

        and I can assure you that you are only getting one side of the story.  From you tone I'm sure I unlikely to  change your mind, but nonetheless you are way off base.

        The docs I work with, the more senior of whom usually have upper-management responsibilities in addition to their patient-care, teaching, and research duties, are incredible people -- smart, driven, altruistic, and not all that rich. Our hospital has huge financial shortfalls.  We're a poor state.  The inpatient units have a shortage of beds almost every day.  Staff, docs, and yes the administrators too, are working incredibly long hours and making a LOT less money than could make doing similar roles in the private-practice setting.  This is not something I read an article about -- it's something I see first hand.  

        Liberals SUPPORT healthcare, remember?  How do you expect poor people to get health care if you don't ALSO support those who provide it to them?  

        Save your ire for insurance profits.  Healthcare providers in public settings are NOT the enemy.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 11:41:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

          •  I promise I'll read it, thanks (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Spud1, wilderness voice

            but it's a long article and I have major deadlines today.  So this particular thread will probably be history by the time I formulate thoughts in response.  

            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

            by lgmcp on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:26:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Not the doctors (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilderness voice

          I support health care access for everyone. I believe doctors are indispensible and noble.

          There's nothing noble about charging patients without insurance 100 times the hospital's cost for everything just because the hospital can, since there's no insurance company negotiating rates. There's nothing noble about charging my employer's insurance company double what Medicaid pays, just because they can. And there's nothing noble about a non-profit hospital paying its administrators 5 million bucks a year. People whose only other option is death don't deserve to be gouged on prices, or sued when they can't pay thousands for the CAT scan that was ordered for a bloody nose.

          Read the Time article, as it just read it yesterday. You'll change your tune, I believe. It's horrific; absolutely appalling.

          The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

          by Korkenzieher on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 02:30:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It would take a long time to explain this, and (5+ / 0-)

      I'm not sure I know all the details. Essentially, Maine expanded its Medicare program more than a decade ago, and then the Legislature led by then-Gov. John Baldacci paid down $742 million of the debt, including using funds from leasing the state's liquor sales in 2004 for a lump sum.

      Gov. LePage wants to renegotiate the liquor lease, with the hopes of earning another lump sum payment from the new lessee (the bill is LD239).

      Meanwhile, since LePage took office, he has repeatedly tried to make it much more difficult to qualify for MaineCare, which is what Medicare is called here. This includes eliminating coverage for low income 19 and 20 year olds, eliminating funding for Head Start, eiminate or reduce grants to the Fund for a Healthy Maine for home visitation, oral health, immunization, and family planning, eliminating funding for tobacco cessation programs, etc.

      In the supplemental budget just passed, Gov. LePage initially proposed eliminating the Drugs for the Elderly Program, eliminating the cost of living adjustments (COLA) for retired state employees, and reducing reimbursement to critical access hospitals and reducing outpatient services by 10 percent. All were rejected by the Appropriations Committee. The Supplemental Budget was approved almost unanimously by the full Legislature.

      Regarding LePage's proposed biennial budget for FY2014-15, I prepared this primer on it. It is basically dead on arrival, with the suspension of Revenue Sharing the largest impediment.

      Revenue Sharing is a program that returns taxes collected by towns back to towns, and amounts to about $200 million a year. This scheme fills a state budget hole created by Republican tax cuts in the last legislative session, while shifting the burden to towns, who must either cut their already tight budgets by eliminating services, or raise property taxes.

      Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

      by Spud1 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 11:37:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  And Maine people elected this bozo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spud1, parsonsbeach

    I'm from Berkeley, California and I don't think we'd be stupid to have Paul LePage as our Mayor or even Governor in the state.  

    Get this guy out of office, PLEASE.  The state of Maine doesn't deserve this.  It's a very liberal state from what I understand.

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