PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's hospitals say they are thrilled with the news that the state is moving forward with paying off its debt to them. The governor announced Thursday that Maine would sell the revenue bond dedicated to paying the hospitals next week. Hospitals are owed $184 million in state Medicaid funds, and that money triggers a $305 million federal match.
It's a lot of money, but Maine's hospital administrators say it's not exactly like winning the lottery. The state's been accruing this debt for 5 years and hospitals had been taking out lines of credit to pay their bills. When the debt is paid off, hospital administrators expect to be able to borrow money at better rates because the hospitals' finances will be more stable. The state also changed its payment system so this debt won't pile up again.
"We're going to thank Governor LePage for his innovative thoughts, getting this forward, and the legislature. Both branches of government came together and now the hospitals are going to get paid," said Chuck Gill, Vice President of Public Affairs for Central Maine Healthcare.
"We're really appreciative to the governor and the legislature," said Katie Fullam Harris, MaineHealth's Vice President of Employer and Government Relations,
But Maine's debt isn't the only financial pressure these health care providers face, and that's why Maine Medical Center, for instance, announced layoffs just last week.
Harris said, "Health care is constantly evolving right now, and there are so many balls in the air from the affordable care act to the financial challenges that all of our patients have faced over the last 5 years to the hospital debt that has been owed to us."