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October 21, 2013

LePage reconsidering Medicaid expansion

Seeing examples in other states, Gov. Paul LePage said he's open to considering alternatives to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care reform law.

The Portland Press Herald reported that federal approval of an alternative Medicaid expansion plan in Arkansas and a pending plan in Iowa have given hope to Maine lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that the state can pursue a compromise to get more people in the state insured. The Arkansas plan was the first in the nation to receive a waiver from the federal government, showing that there is room for compromise over the terms of its Medicaid expansion. The Arkansas and Iowa plans do not fund expansion of Medicaid but channel subsidies to help low-income residents buy insurance in the online health care marketplaces that opened Oct. 1.

LePage has previously taken issue with Medicaid expansion, saying he distrusts the guarantee of reimbursement to the state after 2016, when the federal government's share of the expansion would drop from 100% to 90%.

Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for the governor, told the paper in an email that the governor is encouraged that the federal government has shown flexibility in approving alternative plans in Iowa and Arkansas, though his administration does not have a specific proposal.

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