PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Governor Paul LePage says he's willing to accept a big expansion of Maine's Medicaid program if he gets the right guarantees from the federal government.
The Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, includes a large expansion of Medicaid health insurance to cover more lower income people. Estimates have suggested as many as 70,000 Mainers could get coverage under the program.
Gov. LePage and many other Republican Governors originally dismissed the Medicaid expansion. But in recent weeks, some of those Governors have changed their minds and agreed to accept the new federal money. Gov. LePage Wednesday said he would be glad to join them, as long as the federal government guarantees to pay the cost for an extended period of time.
The Governor has been a harsh critic of current Medicaid rules, including a policy called "maintenance of effort", which has prevented the state from making some Medicaid cuts the Governor wanted.
The proposed expansion would have the federal government pay the entire cost of the new beneficiaries for three years, Gov. LePage told NEWS CENTER Wednesday ,"I understand they're gonna get 100 percent for a year then it drops to 90 percent. If I know that for the foreseeable future we can talk."
Democrats announced health care reform legislation on Monday that would include a bill requiring Maine to accept the new Medicaid money. Democratic leaders said that same day they were encouraged to hear the Governor is considering approving the expansion.
The Governor's press office says Administration staffers are in ongoing discussions with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about the issue.