Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Maine-- The 1st State To Pass Medicaid Expansion At The Ballot Box-- A Guest Post By Jared Golden


There's a battle raging in Maine right now because, after the Trumpist governor of the state, Paul LePage, kept vetoing the legislature's Medicaid expansion, the citizens voted to expand it in a ballot initiative. LePage then announced he would "veto" that too! Yesterday, Jared Golden, the House Majority Whip and a candidate for Congress (endorsed by Blue America) penned an OpEd for The Hill explaining the situation to folks outside the state who might not be following it as closely. This is something the whole country needs to understand.
Give Maine voters what they want and expand Medicaid in the state
by Jared Golden

Maine made history last Tuesday by becoming the first state to pass Medicaid expansion at the ballot box. After five unsuccessful attempts to override Governor Paul LePage’s vetoes, Maine people took matters into their own hands and elected to expand healthcare coverage to 70,000 of their neighbors.

On the heels of the GOP’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) earlier this year, Medicaid expansion received a majority of the vote in both of Maine’s Congressional Districts, including Maine’s Second Congressional District (ME-2) which went for President Trump in 2016.

In 2016, ME-2 also supported a referendum to increase the minimum wage from $7.50 to $12 by the year 2020, and approved a bond to invest in the state’s infrastructure.

Taken together these three voter-approved initiatives say a lot about a district that voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, and for President Trump in 2016. Voters are tired of feeling left behind as the district’s economy continues to struggle to recover from the Great Recession.

The voters have spoken. But like most things in government these days, the fight is not over, it’s just beginning.

The day after Medicaid expansion passed, Governor LePage and his allies in the Legislature immediately issued public statements saying they would refuse to implement the voter-approved law.

In Maine, you can count on a few things: snow in the winter, tourists in the summer, and the governor manufacturing political and financial crises that don’t actually exist. Earlier this year, Republicans in the Maine House blocked several voter-approved referendums and even shutdown government as a tactic to defy the will of the people.

Now they are at it again, using misleading data and information to claim Maine can’t afford to expand Medicaid, when in fact, Maine can’t afford not to. For every state dollar invested, Maine will get nine back, bringing almost $500 million in federal investment into the state’s economy.

This isn’t just about the health of Maine’s citizens, it’s also about the health of Maine’s economy. The healthcare sector is one of the largest employers in the state and that infusion of federal healthcare dollars is expected to create 3,000 new jobs in Maine. Without Medicaid expansion, rural Maine hospitals and healthcare providers will continue to struggle to keep their doors open and we will lose more jobs. With it, we create new forms of revenue and we create new jobs.

The reality is that one in five people in Maine are on Medicaid. Many of them are seniors living in poverty and in need of long-term care and housing. Meanwhile, 70,000 people with no healthcare coverage continue to seek treatment from a system that can’t continue to provide it without reimbursement.

Congressman Poliquin and Governor LePage can’t accept that they are on the wrong side of one of the chief moral issues of our time: whether or not all Americans should have access to affordable healthcare.

Bruce Poliquin may think he knows better than the people he represents but the majority of them agree with me that income shouldn’t determine your ability to obtain medical care. And in a sharp rebuke to Poliquin’s vote to repeal the ACA and cut Medicaid, his constituents chose to expand it instead.

As the House Majority Whip in the Maine State House of Representatives I am prepared to take every fair and sensible measure necessary to ensure the people's voice is heard and respected, and that thousands of Maine citizens without health care get it. Last week, Republicans made false claims that I would raise taxes on working and middle class Mainers to pay for Medicaid expansion in Maine.

To be clear, the only folks talking about raising taxes on working and middle class people in this country are Republicans in Washington so they can pay for massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, many of which don’t provide healthcare benefits to their employees.

The Republican tax plan also doubles down on the total assault on health care by seeking to repeal the medical expense tax deduction, a tool thousands of Maine’s elderly and seriously ill take advantage of each year.

There really may be no limit to the lengths that Congressman Poliquin will go to protect and promote the interests of the mega-wealthy. Instead of giveaways to the rich, he should work to eliminate the loopholes that the wealthy use to get out of paying their fair share.

Ultimately, Bruce Poliquin may decide to keep playing to his base. But it’s hard to imagine they’re excited about losing deductions and tax credits as a partial payment for tax cuts for millionaires, while adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt. That’s not exactly fiscal conservatism.

Meanwhile, when the Maine Legislature reconvenes in January, my colleagues and I will begin work immediately to fund and implement the Medicaid expansion that Maine voters have demanded.

Jared Golden is Maine’s House Assistant Majority Leader and Democratic candidate to represent Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. You can contact him by emailing

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At 6:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could there be better proof that voters are simply stupid?

They elect people to the lege and to be gov who they know are boilerplate regressive R fascists. Yet they also vote to implement progressive changes in spite of them.

If they are really progressive, why not elect better people? (ARE there any better people?)
If they really don't want anything progressive, why vote in those initiatives?

Do many of them even realize they don't know what they're doing?

At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do many of them even realize they don't know what they're doing?"

Yes, they do. They are voting against same-sex marriage, reproductive choice, immigration from non-Anglo nations, and other social issues which go against their religious beliefs. Just because they see the wisdom of public health care doesn't mean they aren't ignorant and superstitious.

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:18, point taken... even though my question was rhetorical. I summarize 'ignorant and stuperstitious' as simply 'stupid'.


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