Maine people should vote Yes on 2

Maine people should vote Yes on 2

There are a lot of false claims being made by people who want you to be afraid of the cost and paint as unworthy the 70,000 low income Maine people who would receive healthcare by passing Question 2 on November 7th.

Some question 2 naysayers talk in dog-whistle terms like “welfare” and “benefit able-bodied adults”. So allow me to set the record straight. Medicaid pays health providers (doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies) for doing the job of providing healthcare. Period. It doesn’t pay the person who gets Medicaid coverage. That’s not welfare, it’s helping people be healthy through investing in healthcare jobs. According to the Maine Center for Economic Policy 19% of the people who would receive healthcare from Medicaid expansion are disabled, but their disability isn’t severe enough to qualify them for Medicaid in the disabled category. Look at what’s behind the dog-whistle labels and vote Yes on 2.

The truth is we all know neighbors or family members who work hard to pay their bills but struggle just the same and can’t afford health coverage. People like Nathan Nicholls, whose art graces many places in the area such as the Tidemark Gallery in Waldoboro. Nathan spoke in support of expanding Medicaid because as a metal sculptor and photographer he knew first hand that struggle to stay healthy and the inability to afford healthcare. For years he tried to manage his diabetes on his own, but sadly Nathan didn’t live to see Medicaid expansion happen. Take the time to look at this question through Nathan’s eyes and vote Yes on 2.

If you want the truth about the cost, you should know that the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review calculates the cost at $45 million over the next two years and $55 million a year starting in 2021. It’s not the $500 million that Republican politicians opposing Question 2 claim. Who are you going to believe on this? The nonpartisan office whose job is to make accurate and impartial cost projections they can defend against legislators regardless of party? Or people whose partisan interest is to scare you into voting no? Remember that truth matters, and vote Yes on 2.

For every dollar Maine invests in this form of economic development and healthcare job creation, the Federal government will provide nine dollars in match — around 520 million dollars a year. Frankly, our economy and our job seekers could use that kind of investment, which is why it has the endorsement of major newspapers, the Maine Medical Association, the Maine Primary Care Association, the Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Nurse Practitioner Association, Maine State Nurses Association and literally dozens of community, social justice and religious organizations. Let’s finally invest in Maine’s economy and jobs that benefit all of Maine and vote Yes on 2.

Another scare tactic of opponents is comparing this Medicaid Expansion with the debt Maine ran up after expansion in 2002. That’s a false comparison for three good reasons.

  1. No carrying a balance due: The Mainecare reimbursement process now pays as costs are incurred instead of attempting to reconcile a balance due annually as it did in past decades.
  2. No recession: Maine’s ability to pay its bills after 2002 was undermined by the recession, which is not an issue today. In fact we had a budget surplus this year.
  3. Much lower percentage is state funded: Medicaid expansion under Question 2 will have 10% State funding and 90% Federal funding instead of the roughly 40% State and 60% Federal funding that applied in 2002.

Don’t be fooled by false claims, scare tactics or loaded phrases. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says “The governor and others opposed to expansion have recycled many of the false and misleading arguments that conservative opponents of the Medicaid expansion in other states have used: that expansion would be too costly for the state, that it won’t reduce the share of Mainers who are uninsured, and that it would force the state to eliminate Medicaid services for seniors and people with disabilities.” Reject false and misleading claims and vote Yes on 2.

If the very broad support for Question 2 isn’t sufficient, look in your heart. If you care about whether fellow Mainers like Nathan have access to healthcare, if you feel strongly that it’s time to invest in decent paying jobs and our economy, including helping rural hospitals keep their doors open, and you want your federal taxes to benefit healthcare in Maine, not just other states who already expanded, then you should vote Yes on 2.

Chris Johnson
Chair, Lincoln County Democratic Committee
Somerville, Maine

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