[HCCN] Fwd: Senate Republicans Win Initial Passage of Structural Reforms to Reduce Spending and Focus MaineCare on Most Vulnerable Citizens

Dick Atlee atlee at umd.edu
Wed May 16 08:02:16 EDT 2012

The spin begins...  Um, what about that $50 million....?

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Senate Republicans Win Initial Passage of Structural Reforms to 
Reduce Spending and Focus MaineCare on Most Vulnerable Citizens
Date: 	Tue, 15 May 2012 21:51:37 -0400
From: 	Maine Senate Republicans <mainesenaterepublicans at gmail.com>

*May 15**, 2012*

For Immediate Release
May 15, 2012

Senate Republicans Win Initial Passage of *
Structural Reforms to Reduce Spending and *
Focus MaineCare on Most Vulnerable Citizens*
Democrats offer no long-term plan; seek status quo until after Election

AUGUSTA - The Maine Senate gave initial passage this afternoon to a
Supplemental Budget designed to reduce spending on MaineCare and put the
state's social safety net on a sound footing for the future.  In a
party-line vote of 19-16, Senate Republicans passed structural changes
to MaineCare that will lower costs and seeks to end annual budget
shortfalls that have plagued state government for years and threaten
funding for other vital state programs.

LD 1746, the Supplemental Budget bill was modified significantly by
Republicans on the Appropriations Committee from the original proposal
submitted by Governor LePage, while concurring with his position that
structural changes are needed to ensure that MaineCare and core state
government programs remain sustainable going forward.

Republican legislators noted that Medicaid enrollment has grown by 78
percent since 2002, while Maine's population grew only 7 percent.  Maine
insures 35 percent more of its population through the MaineCare program
than the national average, and  MaineCare represents 21 percent of all
state funding, while in 1998, it represented just 12.4 percent.  In
2009, Maine's per capita Medicaid cost was $1,895 per person while vs.
the national average of $1,187.

One example of how the budget differs from the original proposal is the
Drugs for the Elderly and the Medicare savings programs. Under the original
proposal, approximately 78,000 people would have had their coverage
reduced or eliminated. Under the final proposal, only 1,500 people at
the top of the current income guidelines will have their benefit

Currently Medicare Part B premiums are $99.90 per month.  Under current
law, individuals making under $20,664 per year will have their Part B
premiums paid for by MaineCare. Under the proposal that was passed,
individuals earning $19,547 per year or less will continue to have their
part B premiums paid for by MaineCare and some lower income individuals
will have additional benefits covered.  In order to be part of this
program, individuals must be federal Medicare enrollees.

In the budget, Republicans also honored their commitment to the General
Assistance agreement reached by both political parties in the
Supplemental Budget that was passed last month. When that item was
line-item vetoed by the Governor, Republicans pledged to address the
issue upon their return.

"The Republican majority will not repeat mistakes made by past
legislatures that used one-time revenues to put a Band-Aid on a broken
system, hoping the problem will go away. Rather than avoid difficult
decisions and continue an endless string of budget shortfalls, we are
setting the priorities required to ensure that MaineCare is sustainable
and that our most vulnerable citizens will be protected over the
long-term," said Senate President Kevin Raye (R-Washington County).

Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney (R-York County) stressed the need to
act in the face of the $83 million MaineCare shortfall.

"Republicans were elected to solve problems.  That is what we are
doing.  Difficult choices need to be made, and failure to act is not an
option. For years the Democrats have not proposed long-term solutions to
this problem that threatens all state government functions," said
Senator Courtney.

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