AUGUSTA, Maine(NEWS CENTER) -- For yet another day, the fight over expanding the Maine Care health insurance program took center stage in Augusta. Wednesday was the public hearing, a chance for advocates and citizens to tell the legislative committee if they think the plan should pass or fail.
And there were plenty of people - from both sides -- at the hearing.
Democrats are united in their support for expanding Maine Care under the federal Affordable Care Act. They say the federal government would pay 100% of the cost to insure an additional 70-thousand people for three years. Republicans say there would still be added cost to the state, and argue that the budget the state can't afford it.
There is at least one category of people for whom the federal government would only pay about 62%. Democratic Speaker of the House Mark Eves said that piece of information had already been factored into cost projections. But Republican Rep. Deb Sanderson suggested it was new information, meaning previous projections might now be inaccurate. The spokesperson for Speaker Eves says the federal government provided the information earlier last year, and that the 62% reimbursement level is already reflected in cost and savings estimates."
The divisions on the Medicaid issue within the Legislature are quite clear, and there seems little question that it will pass with the Democratic majority. However, both democratic leaders and activist groups say they are focused now on lobbying particular Republicans, hoping to swing enough of their votes to overcome an expected veto from Governor LePage.