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The following is the weekly message from Governor Paul R. LePage. To listen to the audio visit the Governor's website.
Timing is everything. For some people, however, the right time will never come to do the right thing.
Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.
More than one hundred fifteen days have passed since I put a plan on the table to pay the hospitals. Nearly four months later, the hospitals are still waiting for the $484 million the state owes them.
By paying the State’s bills, we strengthen our economy and the hospitals that care for and employ Maine people. Hospitals will be able to pay new and existing employees and local vendors, and they will be able to pursue capital improvements that will lead to even more jobs.
Once the hospitals are paid, I’ve promised to issue voter-authorized bonds that will grow our economy, including the 2014 transportation infrastructure improvements and $53.5 million for conservation, clean water upgrades, and construction and energy-efficiency projects at post-secondary educational institutions.
At the beginning of this session, there were more than 1000 bills. About 150 bills so far have come to my desk. Now, with only five weeks left, legislators are scrambling to pass as much legislation as possible.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think every bill should be passed. Quantity certainly doesn’t equal quality. In fact, I believe stopping bad legislation is better than passing good legislation.
As your Governor here in Augusta, I’ve learned one thing. Even if my proposals have merit—even if they are good for Maine people—it is nearly impossible to get them passed by a Democratic-led Legislature.
President Alfond and Speaker Eves are preventing a vote on the hospital bill, knowing that what they are doing is wrong for Maine. But we’re starting to good judgment coming from some democrats. Some are now speaking up, including Senator John Tuttle, Chair of the Committee that first reviewed my hospital bill. Senator Tuttle is a respected senator who is serving his 14th term in state government. This week Senator Tuttle put Maine people before politics when he said he disagrees with Democratic leadership’s decision to tie the hospital bill to Medicaid.
Republicans and I have been very clear that the hospital bill and welfare expansion are two separate issues.
Furthermore, under ObamaCare, low-income Mainers will qualify for federal tax subsidies to buy private insurance. Let me repeat that: low-income Mainers will qualify for money from the federal government to buy health insurance.
The Supreme Court ruled that Medicaid expansion is optional. The court also revealed that if states expanded Medicaid to cover the uninsured, those same people will qualify to get tax subsidies to buy health insurance. The authors of the Affordable Care Act underscore this point. I’ve put a link on my website at www.Maine.gov/governor so you can see the article yourself.
If more Mainers in 2014 will get tax subsidies to become insured, why is Democratic leadership holding up the hospital bill? It’s simple. They do not want to pay the hospitals. That’s the difference between me and career politicians. I just want to get the job done.
Winston Churchill once said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.”
Well, these two have tried everything else and Mainers are frustrated. It’s time to vote on the hospital bill.
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