DHHS: Medicaid Expansion Initiative Would Increase Taxes

DHHS: Medicaid Expansion Initiative Would Increase Taxes, Take Money From Schools and Jeopardize State’s Commitment to Disabled and Elderly

 

The Ballot initiative to expand Medicaid would cost Maine taxpayers more than $400 million over five years

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will once again work to educate citizens and members of the legislature about the dire impact expanding MaineCare, Maine’s Medicaid program, would have on the state’s budget and our most vulnerable citizens. This comes after the Secretary of State announced the citizen’s initiative petition will qualify for the 2017 ballot.

Citing the $750 million in hospital debt racked up during the last Medicaid expansion and the hundreds of millions more another expansion would cost the state, Governor Paul R. LePage vetoed Medicaid expansion five times, and the Legislature sustained those vetoes.

"Maine has already experienced the devastating consequences of expanding Medicaid, and doing so again would be irresponsible and return Maine’s budget from its current state of stability to one of perpetual crisis. A bloated Medicaid system means fewer resources for Maine’s most vulnerable citizens—our elderly and disabled,” said Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “When MaineCare is running $50 million to $100 million annual shortfalls—it hinders the state from making investments in other key priorities, such as our infrastructure, law enforcement, economic development or lowering Maine’s uncompetitive tax rates for businesses and individuals.”

The LePage Administration and this Department cannot stress enough that this is not "free money" as advocates insist. DHHS has estimated that the state’s share of Medicaid expansion would be in excess of $400 million over five years. States that decided to expand under the ACA are facing crushing costs associated with over-enrollment, and the federal government has denied many states’ attempts to mitigate these unexpected costs.

Importantly, Medicaid expansion in Maine would only expand coverage to able-bodied, 21-64 year old adults, most of them without dependents. It would not expand coverage to a single child, pregnant woman, disabled person, or senior citizen—all of whom are already eligible for Medicaid or Medicare coverage.

“If the citizen’s initiative is successful and Maine expands Medicaid, it will undoubtedly put us back into financial disarray forcing us to return to the days of crisis management. We would not have the ability to meet core priorities or anticipate increasing demands with our rapidly aging population or the number of children diagnosed with autism who will soon graduate from school in need of services. Those individuals will pay the price for expansion, and the taxpayers will certainly suffer the consequences,” said Commissioner Mayhew.