Top Democrats have called on Governor Paul LePage to stop making excuses for denying health care to thousands of Maine people.  

 Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond said LePage is making a bad deal for the people of Maine by refusing to accept federal health care dollars to provide health insurance for nearly 70,000 Maine people.  

 “Governor LePage continues to play politics with health care for 70,000 Maine people,” said Eves of North Berwick. “He’s leaving millions of dollars in health care savings on the table while other states are recouping the benefits. He’s simply denying and delaying care for no good reason.”

 Maine is one of 10 states that will see Medicaid expenditures go down over 10 years if it accepts federal funds to cover more people. Estimates from the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation show that state would save $690 million in the next 10 years if it accepted federal health care dollars.

 “We’ve heard one excuse after another from this governor,” said Alfond. “If he is serious about lowering our medical costs and addressing our hospital debt in our state, he should accept federal health care dollars now. It is the morally and fiscally right thing to do.”

 Maine’s hospital debt is a symptom of high health care costs. Going forward, those costs could be lowered by accepting federal health care dollars to cover nearly 70,000 Maine people. By doing so, Maine would significantly reduce hospital charity care cost for the uninsured.

 “Maine hospitals have the most to gain from accepting federal funds – not only will their costs go down but their patient volume will increase at time when a decline in users is leading to layoffs at some hospitals,” said Eves. “We can save jobs and add new ones by accepting these health care dollars.”

 Charity care costs Maine hospitals $200 million per year – and the costs keep going up. Hospitals pass these charity care costs to consumers, including the state and individuals and businesses with private insurance.

 The federal government pledged to pay 100 percent of the costs of health care for nearly 70,000 Maine people for three years. After that, it will gradually lower its payment to 90 percent of the cost by 2022. Maine can opt-out at any time.

 “The people of Maine sent us to Augusta to get things done and offer real solutions,” said Alfond. “This is a unique opportunity to for Mainers to get health insurance with the feds picking up the tab. I hope the governor stops playing politics with people’s lives and our state’s coffers.”

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