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On Tuesday, Maine could become the 33rd state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Mainers will vote tomorrow on a long-awaited ballot initiative that, if passed, would expand Medicaid to cover anyone living below 133 percent of the federal poverty line. That works out to about 80,000 Maine residents gaining coverage, according to the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Office of Fiscal and Program review.
Maine would also become the first state to expand Medicaid by ballot initiative, and that could encourage other nonexpansion states to take the same route.
Medicaid expansion actually has a fair amount of bipartisan support in Maine. Earlier this year, I wrote about a Republican state legislator named Tom Saviello who has repeatedly introduced bills to expand the Medicaid program.
“The people I represent need this,” he told me. “It’s as simple as that.”
The legislature has actually passed five separate bills to expand Medicaid. But Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, has vetoed all of them. Unsurprisingly, LePage has also been a vocal opponent of the upcoming ballot initiative, too. Here’s what the governor said in a radio address last week:
This Medicaid expansion is not for children or the elderly. They are already covered by Medicaid.
This Medicaid expansion would give “free” health care to able-bodied adults who can work and contribute to their own health insurance costs.
I’ve said it before: “Free” is very expensive to somebody. This time, it will cost Maine taxpayers up to $500 million in the next five years. Maine learned this the hard way when it expanded Medicaid in 2002.
LePage is likely Read More Here