Maine's Democratic legislature keeps on trying to extend Medicaid coverage to some 24,000 state residents who fall into the Medicaid gap. But they haven't yet reached a veto-proof majority, so for the third time, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has stopped expansion.
In his veto letter, LePage reiterated his staunch opposition to the proposal, saying it would have a "disastrous impact on Maine's budget" and calling the proposed savings through the expansion and managed care "mirages." He also vetoed the plan the two other times the Democratic-controlled Legislature sent it to his desk last year.The bill he vetoed is actually a Republican proposal that would privatize the Medicaid funding, creating a managed care program to cover as many as 70,000 Maine residents. But that's not good enough for LePage. Of course, these three vetoes could be his doom.
"Proponents of this bill tout 'free' federal money and unspecified state 'savings' with no backup for these claims," LePage said. "It is shortsighted to think federal funds will always be available, especially after watching the federal deficit climb and witnessing continual delays and changes from Washington."
PPP polling for MoveOn finds that 57 percent of Mainers want the expansion. When asked if LePage's opposition to the expansion would make them more or less likely to vote for him, LePage loses 45-30. Similarly, people are more likely to vote for his Democratic challenger, Mike Michaud, by a 39-33 margin because of his support for the expansion. So there's a big ol' gift-wrapped issue for Michaud to run on.