Governor ignores key facts in plea to Sebelius
AUGUSTA—Top Democratic state lawmakers sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today disputing claims made by Governor LePage in his “State Plan Amendment” (SPA) request to the federal government. The SPA is necessary in order for LePage to implement cuts in Maine’s Medicaid program for working parents, children ages 19 and 20, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
At issue are LePage’s claims of a state budget deficit and his rationale that the deficit required the state to make substantial cuts to Medicaid. In the letter to U.S. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, State Senator Dawn Hill and State Representative Peggy Rotundo assert, “It is important to note that there is no budget deficit. In fact, the State ended FY 2012 with a $20 million budget surplus. In April 2012, the Revenue Forecasting Committee re-projected state revenues upward by $50 million.”
In June, Republican lawmakers pushed through and passed a majority budget that includes health care cuts impacting 27,000 Maine people, including families, seniors and people with disabilities. These cuts eliminate eligibility for 14,500 parents with incomes between 100-133 percent of the federal poverty level and 7,000 19 and 20 year olds, as well as the elimination or reduction of coverage for more than 5,000 seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in the Medicare Savings Program. Meanwhile, Republicans passed a massive tax reduction package benefitting Maine’s wealthiest residents and reduces revenue to the state by $700 million per year starting in 2013.
“Governor LePage and other Republican lawmakers have manufactured a budget crisis. They continue to put forth wrong information and the facts need to be set straight,” said Senator Dawn Hill (D-York). “The truth is there were other options for how to balance the budget besides taking away health care but LePage ignored that fact.”
Hill and Rotundo, who serve as the Democratic leads on the state’s budget writing committee, also assert that LePage’s attempt to cut 27,000 Maine people, who are protected under the federal law’s maintenance of effort (MOE) provision, is not legal following the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. Earlier this month, the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. Congress’ nonpartisan research arm issued a memo saying the Affordable Care Act’s MOE requirement was unaffected by the court decision.
Earlier this month, Democrats pointed out the state budget document requires the LePage administration to secure a waiver from the federal government to make the cuts. LD 1746, Sec. Z-2 states that Medicaid cuts are only effective when “the commissioner of HHS receives written approval of the application for a waiver of the MOE requirement…from CMS or the commissioner receives written notification from CMS that such a waiver is not necessary…” OR “that written approval of the application for a waiver or written notification that such a waiver is not necessary has been received.”