Portland Press Herald: In Maine House, Medicaid expansion passes easily, but still falls short
AUGUSTA — A bill to expand Medicaid to cover more than 60,000 uninsured Mainers was dealt another blow Tuesday as the House voted to pass it 97-49, a single vote less than the two-thirds majority needed to override a certain veto by Gov. Paul LePage.
Last week in the Senate, the bill fell two votes short of a veto-proof margin. The measure would expand MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program, to people who earn as much as 138 percent of the federal poverty level, just over $15,856 a year for an individual. It also would establish a managed-care system for the entire MaineCare program.
MaineCare now serves about 320,000 low-income people, including the elderly, the disabled, working parents and their children.
Democrats, who have made Medicaid expansion a policy priority, have emphasized the human impact of not extending coverage to more poor Mainers. Republicans continue to stress the future costs of expanding the $2.5 billion program, which accounts for about 17 percent of state spending.
Senate Approves Medicaid Expansion, but Final Passage Unlikely
The Maine Senate this week approved a measure to expand MaineCare (Maine's version of Medicaid) to an additional 70,000 to 100,000 Maine residents. The vote was 22-13 in favor of LD 1487. However, the 13 "no" votes indicate that if the bill were to pass in the House of Representatives and then face a certain veto from Governor Paul LePage, there are not enough votes to override the veto. One of the most closely watched votes was that of Senator Brian Langley (R-Hancock), who gave an impassioned and insightful floor speech on why he ultimately opposed expansion.
Other Floor Speeches:
Senator Jim Hamper: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ursznRp2hfs&feature=youtu.be
Senator Doug Thomas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB8HKKR7fQo&feature=youtu.be
Senator Garrett Mason:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAJCuZzSp28&feature=youtu.be
Senator Rod Whittemore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvEIn_-5tps&feature=youtu.be
Big Mac or $800 Million?
For the price of one pizza, fast food meal, or other inexpensive item, we could save Maine taxpayers more than $800 million over the next decade. Republican legislative leaders explained how in a news conference this morning.
In the Arena
Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau and Justin Alfond went "In the Arena" on WCSH TV. Bonds, balancing the budget, and Medicaid expansion were among the topics discussed.