Hundreds of Mainers from across the state converged on the State House in Augusta yesterday to loudly voice their opposition to the $220 million in cuts the LePage Administration has proposed to Medicaid. An estimated 65,000 people stand to lose health care benefits if the Legislature adopts these proposals.
A rally organized by the Maine Can Do Better coalition (of which MECEP is a proud member) received extensive coverage in the Maine media, including articles and photos in the Bangor Daily News, (Lewiston) Sun Journal and Maine Today Media (Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel) and reports on WABI-TV, WCSH-TV/WLBZ-TV and WGME-TV. Maine Public Broadcasting Network ran three segments on the rally, individuals and families affected by the proposed cuts and the hearing before the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs.
At the hearing, Legislators heard compelling testimony about the consequences of the proposed cuts from individuals whose benefits are at risk, from advocates for veterans, from the operators of nursing homes and other private, non-medical institutions for the elderly and from more than 100 others.
Meanwhile, at a “town hall” in Franklin County, Governor Paul LePage again justified his Administration’s proposed cuts which a Portland Press Herald editorial labeled “irresponsible, through and through.” The Governor again cited anecdotal evidence of fraud by MaineCare recipients and discredited claims of rapid growth of the program as major contributors to the budget shortfall. This despite the fact that Maine has one of the lowest levels of Medicaid fraud among states and that Maine’s uninsured population would go up by 50% if this proposal passes resulting in higher, not lower, medical costs for everyone.
As the Legislature moves forward with its deliberations on the Administration’s proposals, Maine people have made it clear that cutting health care benefits for tens of thousands who depend upon them is not the answer. The question now is: are our elected representatives in Augusta listening?