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Maine Gov Vetoes Medicaid Expansion Bill
04/09/2014 04:02 PM ET  

In his veto message, Gov. Paul LePage says Maine can't afford to expand the program, and can't trust federal promises of funds to cover the costs.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has - for the third time - vetoed legislation that would have extended Medicaid to about 70,000 Mainers under the Affordable Care Act. The bill he vetoed Wednesday was a compromise brokered by Republican lawmakers.

In his veto message, LePage says Maine can't afford to expand the program, even though the federal government would pay the entire cost for three years, and 90 percent after that.

"The expansion offered through Obamacare would have a disastrous impact on Maine's budget, as well as those truly needy individuals, our disabled and elderly, who rely today on the scarce resources in our program," LePage writes.

LePage says the savings that supporters claim would result from the expansion are "merely mirages."

"It is shortsighted to think federal funds will always be available, especially after watching the federal deficit climb and witnessing continual delays and changes from Washington," he says.

While the veto came as no surprise, advocates for expansion are decrying the move. The Cover Maine Now Coalition, a group of 90 organizations advocating for expansion, says in a statement that it's "a sad day for the people of Maine."

"Gov. LePage has chosen ideology over the well-being of nearly 70,000 Mainers who are counting on the state to do the right thing and expand access to health care," says Sara Gagne-Holmes, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners.



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