AUGUSTA — At a private event earlier this month, Governor Paul LePage told conservative supporters of the Informed Women’s Network that he made a “bet to resign” with Democratic leaders in the Legislature over the cost of Medicaid expansion in Maine. Non-partisan studies have shown that Maine could save hundreds of lives and millions of dollars by accepting federal health care dollars to expand Medicaid.

An audio recording from the event was posted on the Bangor Daily News blog The Tipping Point. According to a transcript of the audio, LePage said, “I told the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House I believe that expanding Medicare, expanding Obamacare, was going to increase the cost to the State of Maine, and I made a deal with them. I told them – if it doesn’t and you prove to me it’s going to lower the cost in health care, I’ll resign  and I won’t run again, but if it raises the cost of health care by one dollar, you’ll both resign,” said LePage. “Because that’s honesty. That’s what it takes. You’ve gotta put it on the table and they don’t want to. Because it’s $150 million a year, plus that’s not even counting the 35,000. It’s another about 8 million just in new personnel. It’s crazy, it’s so out of control it’s unbelievable. So don’t let ’em fool you on healthcare.”

Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick, who has championed the fight to accept federal health care dollars to expand coverage for tens of thousands of Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans, released the following statement in response:

 “The Governor never made that wager. It’s simply not true,” said Eves. “We certainly would never make a bet or a joke over life-saving health care for the people of our state. Every non-partisan study has shown that Maine will save money from expanding health care for working families in our state, but most importantly it will mean more families will have access to a family doctor.”

 According to a Harvard Study, Maine could prevent around 395 deaths per year by accepting federal funds. Analyses by the Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation show Maine could save $690 million over the next decade from Medicaid expansion.

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