PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- City leaders from Portland and Westbrook are joining the chorus of voices speaking out against the governor's proposed Medicaid cuts.
Portland Mayor Michael Brennan led a news conference Monday morning, saying the steep cuts will do nothing more than shift the cost of these programs to local taxpayers.
Mayor Brennan, as well as Westbrook's mayor, Colleen Hilton, and representatives from non-profits including the United Way of Greater Portland, Catholic Charities of Maine, Preble Street and Mercy Hospital, all signed a letter to the governor saying the cuts go too far.
Brennan agrees with Democrats on the appropriations committee that say the legislature needs to look at the entire state budget to come up with the money to fix the budget mess.
The group used the Mercy Hospital emergency department as its backdrop to make the point that when people lose health insurance, as 65,000 would do under the governor's plan, they are more likely to avoid preventive care, and instead, end up in the emergency room.
They say the state should do more to manage the care of Medicaid's heaviest users. 5% of users account for 55% of Maine's Medicaid spending.
DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew says she wants service centers like Portland to know that the cuts will not be the end of the state's conversation with local communities. She feels there may be other ways to reach those hurt by the cuts. But she says the reality is that Medicaid is unsustainable in Maine, and without structural changes, the budget debates will just keep coming back.