MaineCare Cuts Once Again Called Into Question

Augusta – Recipients of MaineCare coverage for childless adults say Governor LePage’s proposal to eliminate the benefit would force many people with chronic medical conditions to go without treatment.

Advocates for low-income Mainers and recipients of MaineCare coverage for childless adults held a news conference Monday in the State House to talk about the impacts of removing coverage under MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program. LePage wants to eliminate coverage for low-income childless adults and other categories, saying the state can’t afford the cost of providing benefits.

The group assembled in Augusta to say, if approved, the proposed cuts would drive Mainers to emergency rooms for care. "I don’t like to call these programs cuts because they’re not cuts," said Shawn Yardley, Director of Health and Community Services in Bangor. "They are cost shifts. There’s no reduction, in fact there’s an increase, in costs. I expect I’ll be spending a lot more time with the police chief, with the sheriff then I do now. Talking about how do we manage these issues."

Currently people making just under $10,890 per year qualify for MaineCare benefits. LePage spokesperson Adrienne Bennett says Maine’s Medicare program (MaineCare) has grown by more than $1-billion over the past decade and can’t be sustained. "Since December the Governor’s plan is the only one that has been on the table," Bennett said. "We haven’t received any other sort of proposal from Democrats. It’s time that we really start digging into this issue."

The governor says if anyone has another solution to the MaineCare funding problem, he’s all ears. Bennett says removing childless adults from MaineCare would save the state $22-million. LePage’s plan is now in the hands of lawmakers.