AUGUSTA — Fundamental flaws in the controversial Alexander report on Medicaid in Maine were exposed today during a hearing on its findings in the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.
The controversial report used inflated and inaccurate poverty data; nearly doubled the amount of people that would receive care under the law; and failed to factor in the economic activity and savings offsets the state would see from accepting federal health dollars to cover more Mainers, according to lawmakers and economic and healthcare experts.
“The research was skewed. Governor LePage got what he paid for,” said Rep. Dick Farnsworth of Portland, the House chair of the HHS committee. “We are looking at getting to real data that will give us real insight. We do not find it in these results which have become campaign talking points masquerading as a report.”
- The report assumes that there will be a highly improbable 33 percent increase in the number of Mainers living in poverty by 2020, which former state economist and University of Southern Maine Professor Charlie Colgan refuted as inconsistent with current economic trends and trends from the past decade. As a result, Alexander doubles the amount of people who would receive health care under the law from 70,000 to 124,000.
- The report does not include state savings offsets. Under the law, the federal government will pick up the tab or share in the cost of state programs, including coverage for the disabled, seniors in the Drugs for the Elderly program, general assistance, the HIV population, key mental health and substance abuse services, or the corrections population.
- The report does not factor in the economic activity that would be generated by the investment of more than $256 million per year or $700,000 per day, creating 3,100 jobs in the state.
“The report recommendations are not a surprise. This is nothing more than a campaign plan for Governor LePage. Unfortunately, the taxpayers of Maine paid for it,” said Senator Margaret Craven of Lewiston, the Senate chair of the HHS committee. “Let’s get beyond campaign issues and move on to the real issues — like getting 70,000 Mainers including 3,000 veterans access to life-saving health insurance.”
Farnsworth noted that the governor spent nearly $1 million in taxpayers dollars for the Alexander Group report when reliable data from independent sources confirms savings.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of health care for tens of thousands of Mainers for three years, injecting $256 million into the state’s economy per year. Analyses by the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation confirm that Maine could save $690 million over the next decade from Medicaid expansion.
According to a RAND Corporation study, states that choose not to expand Medicaid under federal health care reform will leave millions of their residents without health insurance and increase spending on the cost of treating uninsured residents.
Governor Paul LePage awarded the controversial consultant Gary Alexander the $1 million no-bid contract last September despite Alexander’s record of mismanagement and failed policies in Pennsylvania. As the head of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Alexander cost Pennsylvania taxpayers $7 million and took healthcare away from 89,000 children.
During the hearing, non-partisan representatives from both the Maine Hospital Association and from Maine Equal Justice Partners echoed lawmakers concerns about the errors and assumptions in the report.