Feds Issue Split Decision On LePage Health Care Waiver
In a split decision the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has prevented Governor Paul LePage from cutting health care for thousands of Maine families.
“We are relieved to hear that the Governor will not be allowed to cut health care for thousands of Maine people,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, the House Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. “Democrats opposed many of the cuts and repeatedly warned that booking savings on cuts that violated federal law was irresponsible and wrong.”
The cuts were passed as part of a Republican budget last session that booked $20 million in savings by cutting health care to the elderly, people with disabilities, and working families. The federal government approved approximately $4.5 million of the total savings booked.
The department rejected two requests made by the LePage administration. The first would have ended MaineCare coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds who are currently eligible for coverage. The second would have eliminated coverage for the parents of MaineCare-covered children when the parents’ income is less than $14,856 a year.
LePage, however, was given permission to cut programs that help more than 5,000 seniors pay for prescription drugs. The decision also means that more than 20,000 low-income residents will lose their health care because of LePage’s Medicaid cuts. “While Governor LePage has permission to take health care away from seniors and people with disabilities, it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do,” said Senator Dawn Hill, D-York, Senate Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. “We have serious concerns about these cuts. No senior should have to choose between filing their prescriptions or putting food on the table.”
Senator Hill said Democrats would follow up with the federal government to better understand the decision.