AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud tackled his opponent's favorite issue – welfare. Governor LePage has made welfare costs and welfare reform a prime target.
On Thursday, Michaud said he will fight welfare fraud and abuse as much as anyone, so he wants to create a new Office of the Inspector General, specifically to monitor the Department of Health and Human Services. Michaud says an inspector general would be able to find fraud and waste inside and outside the department.
He accused Governor LePage of ignoring serious abuse and waste in DHHS now, saying the Governor is more interested in "Demonizing" the poor. Michaud listed the document shredding scandal in DHHS, the continuing problem with the new Medicaid transportation system, the crisis at Riverview Psychiatric Hospital and the controversial Alexander Report as examples.
Republicans responded by accusing Michaud of ignoring Federal Inspector General's reports about the problems in the U.S. Veteran's Administration. The VA scandal has become a prime talking point for Michaud's opponents. The GOP also said Democrats in the Legislature ignored efforts by LePage and the Republicans to make serious improvements to the state's welfare system.
Michaud didn't have answers to questions about other aspects of the larger welfare issue, saying he will roll out specific proposals on those items later in the summer. He told reporters the IG job is key: "...the independence of the inspector general's office is what's crucially needed. We do not need politics when you're dealing with peoples' lives."