The Latest: Gov refuses to seek Medicaid funding by deadline - InfoNews

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The Latest: Gov refuses to seek Medicaid funding by deadline

April 03, 2018 - 3:25 PM

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Latest on Maine's voter-approved Medicaid expansion (all times local):

6:25 p.m.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage blames lawmakers for his refusal to meet a deadline to ask for $500 million in annual federal funding for voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

The governor on Tuesday denied arguments lodged by Democratic lawmakers and pro-expansion groups that Maine already has enough money to pay for 11 months of voter-approved Medicaid expansion starting in July.

LePage spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz said allocated funding is not enough to pay the bills for tens of thousands of new enrollees starting in July.

Office of Fiscal and Program Review analyst Luke Lazure has told lawmakers that Maine has enough money to fund the state's share of expansion through May 2019.

The state faced a Tuesday deadline laid out in state law to submit a routine application to ensure federal expansion funding.

Rabinowitz said the LePage administration could finalize and submit the application very quickly if lawmakers provided funding in a way the governor approves.

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5:40 p.m.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage is criticizing Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills for staging a "political stunt" by offering up tobacco settlement money for Medicaid expansion.

LePage said Tuesday he's tried for years to use tobacco settlement money for Medicaid programs. The $7.1 billion, two-year budget redirects $10 million over two years from tobacco settlement funds to pay for Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care doctors.

The governor claimed Mills, who's running for governor, has stood in the way of his efforts to use such funds for Medicaid programs.

LePage is term-limited from running for governor this year.

Mills wants to use an additional $35 million won from tobacco companies on top of the original 1998 multimillion-dollar settlement. The governor said a one-time settlement isn't enough to fund Medicaid expansion down the road.

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1:15 p.m.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is proposing using tobacco settlement funds to cover the state's share of a voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

Mills, a Democratic candidate for governor, made her proposal Tuesday on the deadline for the state to submit a routine application to ensure roughly $500 million in annual federal funding for expansion.

She wants to use an additional $35 million won from tobacco companies on top of the original 1998 multimillion-dollar settlement. She said it can be used for Medicaid expansion since the funding is supposed to be used for health care and to maximize federal matching funds.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage had no immediate comment.

The governor for months has said he won't take any steps to expand Medicaid until lawmakers provide funding without raising taxes, dipping into the rainy day fund or using budgetary gimmicks.

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12:10 a.m.

Maine health care providers, lawmakers and advocates are planning to rally to demand that Maine take action on voter-approved Medicaid expansion.

The state faces a Tuesday deadline to submit a routine application to ensure roughly $500 million in annual federal funding for expansion.

The tens of thousands of low-income individuals who could benefit from such expansion are still waiting for Gov. Paul LePage's administration and lawmakers to take action.

The governor for months has said he won't take any steps to expand Medicaid until lawmakers provide funding without raising taxes, dipping into the rainy day fund or using budgetary gimmicks.

Democratic lawmakers say the LePage administration doesn't need additional funds to file the application. Lawmakers haven't yet held a hearing on providing funds for Medicaid expansion, including administrative costs.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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