Speed Reads

i am the captain now

Mainers overwhelmingly voted for Medicaid expansion Tuesday. Now the state's Republican governor is refusing to implement it.

After 60 percent of voters in Maine voted Tuesday to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, the state's Republican governor said Wednesday that he would not expand the program until it was fully funded by the state's legislature, the Washington Examiner reports. In a statement released Wednesday, Gov. Paul LePage said that "credit agencies are predicting that this fiscally irresponsible Medicaid expansion will be ruinous to Maine's budget."

Under the Affordable Care Act, states that expand Medicaid coverage have 100 percent of their costs paid by the federal government for the first three years of expansion. Federal government support would then phase down to 90 percent. Although Maine would receive $525 million in federal funding, the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center estimated that the state would pay more than $100 million on Medicaid expansion costs by 2022.

LePage has vetoed five previous attempts at passing Medicaid expansion in Maine, but he does not have authority to veto the latest effort because it was a ballot measure, not a piece of legislation. Maine previously expanded in Medicaid in 2002 under former Gov. Angus King (I), which LePage has claimed created "massive budget shortfalls"; in 2013, LePage signed a bill paying off a $186 million Medicaid debt to 39 hospitals in order to protect the state's credit rating.

LePage has said that expanding the program would "kill this state." Maine is the 32nd state (not including the District of Columbia) to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but the first to do so via voter referendum.