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Foreign Policy Analysis
Maine lawmakers debate Medicaid funding as legislature reconvenes

Maine lawmakers debate Medicaid funding as legislature reconvenes


PAUL: THIS YEAR’S BIGGEST NON-ELECTION FIGHT WILL LIKELY BE OVER MEDICAID EXPANSION. IN NOVEMBER, 59% OF MAINE VOTERS APPROVED OFFERING MAINECARE TO ABOUT 80,000 NON-DISABLED, CHILDLESS ADULTS. THE PROBLEM IS THE PRICETAG. EXPANSION UNDER THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT COULD COST MAINE $100 MILLION. DEMOCRATIC HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER ERIN HERBIG IS OPTIMISTIC.>>I KNOW THAT WHEN SOMETHING IS A PRIORITY IN THE LEGISLATURE, WE DO COME TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE, AND I’M CONFIDENT WE CAN DO THAT. PAUL: GOVERNOR LEPAGE HAS FOUGHT AGAINST EXPANDING MEDICAID FOR YEARS. HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER KEN FREDETTE IS THE GOVERNOR’S CHIEF ALLY IN THE LEGISLATURE.>>THERE ARE REAL QUESTIONS ABOUT FUNDING THAT WE NEED TO LOOK AT, AND WE’LL DO THAT AS PART OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS. PAUL: YEAH, ANY IDEA, EARLY ON, WHERE THAT MONEY COULD BE FOUND?>>NONE. PAUL: REPUBLICAN SENATE PRESIDENT MIKE THIBODEAU SAYS THERE ARE OTHER THINGS THE LEGISLATURE NEEDS TO PAY FOR WITH THE MONEY THE STATE TAKES IN.>>RUNOFF A LOT OF THOSE RESOURCES AN AWFUL LOT OF THEM — RESOURCES IMMEDIATELY GET TAKEN UP WITH THE HOME HEALTH NURSE SITUATION, WITH INDIGENT LEGAL SERVICES, WITH ALL OF THE LOOSE ENDS THAT WERE LEFT IN A BUDGET. PAUL: THE MORATORIUM ON OPENING RETAIL MARIJUANA SHOPS EXPIRES AT THE END OF JANUARY. FREDETTE SAYS LAWMAKERS WILL BUY THEMSELVES MORE TIME.>>I PREDICT, IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS, THERE’S GOING TO BE AN EXTENSION OF THE MORATORIUM UNTIL EITHER MAY OR JULY. PAUL: THIS IS AN ELECTION YEAR, AND MANY LAWMAKERS INCLUDING ALL 3 IN THIS STORY ARE RUNNING FOR HIGHER OFFICE. WILL THE FINAL YEAR OF THE LEPAGE ERA BE AN UGLY ONE?>>THERE ARE TOO MANY CRITICAL ISSUES TO ALLOW SOMEONE’S REELECTION OR THE NEXT OFFICE THEY’RE SEEKING TO GET IN THE WAY.>>I THINK WE’LL BE VERY SUCCESSFUL.>>IT GETS MESSY AT TIMES. THAT’S WHAT DEMOCRACY’S ABOUT. PAUL: STATE LAWMAKERS WILL BE MEETING HERE AT THE STATE HOUSE THROUGHOUT THE REST OF JANUARY, BUT HEARINGS ARE ALREADY CANCELLED FOR TOMORROW BECAUSE

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