Top Democratic leaders have issued the following statement on Governor Paul LePage’s veto of comprehensive measure to make the final payment on the state’s hospital debt, keep hospital costs under control and extend coverage to tens of thousands of Mainers by accepting federal health care dollars. 

 “In a divided government, you cannot demand all or nothing,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Governor Paul LePage had an opportunity to prove to Maine people that he could compromise. He failed. He had an opportunity to put politics aside. He failed. Governor LePage has failed to pay his bills. He failed to provide health care to people whose lives are on the line. We urge Republicans not to join him in this failure.”

 LD 1546, passed by both the Senate and House, makes the final payment of $485 million in state and federal dollars to Maine hospitals. Under the acceptance of federal health care dollars, the hospitals will also receive an additional $163 million a year in federal dollars for treating newly insured Maine residents.  

 The federal government has agreed to cover 100 percent of the cost for covering tens of thousands of Mainers for the next three years, and gradually lowers its payment to no less than 90 percent of the cost by 2020.

 “Today the Governor denied paying off the final bill to Maine’s hospitals and providing health care to tens of thousands of Mainers,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “The time for action is now. We don’t need political excuses. We don’t need to hard lines drawn in the sand. We simply shouldn’t wait to do what’s right for our state, both morally and fiscally.”

 Alfond added, “In fact, we can’t wait. People’s lives are on the line.”

 Maine is projected to save $690 million in the next 10 years if it accepts the federal dollars, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation.

 Once the governor receives the bill, he has five days to issue a veto letter.

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