Democrats preparing for Medicaid veto vote

7:02 PM, Jun 18, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Democratic majority in the Maine Legislature is about to try one more time to pass a major expansion of the state's Medicaid program.

On Monday, Governor LePage vetoed the Medicaid expansion bill. Now House and Senate will try to override the Governor's veto. An override requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber, and that can only happen if there are sufficient Republican votes.

The expansion would be paid for by the federal government's Affordable Care Act. Supporters say it would provide health insurance coverage to 70,000 people, most of whom don't have it now.

And the federal government would pay the full cost for the first three year of the expansion. After that, coverage would reduce to 90% of the cost - still a much higher rate of federal payment than those currently covered by Medicaid. But opponents say the state would still have to pick up some of the costs, and they complain Medicaid, or Maine Care, is too big and expensive already.

Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-North Berwick) says he is hoping "Republicans will do the right thing" and vote for the expansion. Eves says the added money will help more people get medical care and reduce the amount of charity card now paid for by Maine hospitals.

But House Republican Leader Rep. Ken Fredette (R-Newport) says he does not believe there will be enough GOP votes to pass the Medicaid bill. Fredette and other Republicans say the state needs to take more time to negotiate a better deal with the federal government, which they claim some other states have been allowed to do.

Rep. Eves says they could bring the bill up m the House at any time, but that he is still working with individual members, trying to secure additional votes.


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