Mainers Gather At State House To Call For Medicaid Expansion

Health groups and providers were out in force to urge lawmakers to fund the expansion of Medicaid in Maine as approved by state voters last year.

There are currently about a quarter of a million Mainers covered by Medicaid, and voters approved an expansion to cover about 80,000 more. At a hearing on the bill to implement the expansion, health care providers joined some uninsured Mainers in urging lawmakers to support funding for the measure.

Maria Pineo of South Portland says she needs expensive medications every day and Medicaid has been a lifesaver for her.

“I am really frustrated that our elected officials aren’t doing what we the people elected them to do. The people’s agenda does not include giving tax cuts to the rich while we fail to put a small amount of money to make Medicaid expansion a reality,” she says.

The legislation provides startup funds for the hiring of new staff to handle the expansion, but full implementation is expected to cost the state between $30 million and $55 million.

There was no opposition at the hearing, but it’s unclear whether the bill can survive an expected veto from Gov. Paul LePage.

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