Maine staved off a fiscally disastrous Medicaid expansion recently this week with a slim margin in the legislature. Though the bill to expand the program passed the Maine House of Representatives, it garnered only 97 votes; one less than the required two-thirds majority needed to override Governor LePage’s veto. It seems the Governor is the final levy against increased dependency rates in Maine, but Republican defections could soon allow Democrats to bypass the veto.
Democrats also failed to gain the two votes needed for a super majority in the Senate.
To make matters worse for state Democrats, a recent poll showed that the more Maine taxpayers find out about Medicaid expansion, the more they oppose it. According to the poll, 50 percent of Democrats, and 73 percent of Republicans would be less likely to support expansion once they were made aware of the fact that expansion was being paid for with $716 billion dollars in cuts to seniors’ Medicare coverage. This is just another example of politicians ramming through legislation which the common Mainer does not want.
With Strong (but not veto-proof) majorities in both chambers, Democrats can simply bide their time and keep voting on expansion while Republicans feel pressure to vote for expansion.
Unfortunately, Maine already ranks among the most welfare-dependent state in the Union. A 2012 Maine Heritage Policy Center report reveals that just between 2003 and 2010, Maine’s welfare enrollment jumped 70%. Sadly the trend will only be exacerbated with Medicaid expansion, which would ignore the root structural causes of poverty in Maine.
There are currently 21 states that have rejected Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid. Though Democrats sought to force Medicaid expansion on all taxpayers and state government budgets, the Supreme Court rejected the mandate, giving states a decision. Budget-conscious legislators and Republican governors have demanded reform first as a prerequisite to any discussion about expanding a program that is swallowing state budgets.
The upcoming November elections will provide Mainers an opportunity to send a message to state lawmakers who would play political games with the state’s finances. It’s time to show support to Senators and Representatives who stand up for fiscal responsibility.
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