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May 16, 2013

Dems vote to link Medicaid expansion, hospital payment

Democrats on the Legislature's Heath and Human Services Committee voted Wednesday to link a bill to expand the state's Medicaid program to a hospital repayment plan the governor says is his top priority.

The Portland Press Herald reported the 10-4 committee vote does not make linking the two issues final. The Legislature's Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will consider the hospital repayment bill, and whether to combine it with Medicaid expansion, later this week.

Democrats say linking the issues is the only way to get Gov. Paul LePage and Republican leaders at the State House to support expanding Medicaid to comply with the Affordable Care Act. The Maine Hospital Association supports both issues but association lobbyist Jeffrey Austin told the paper the organization does not support linking Medicaid expansion and hospital repayments in one bill.

Hospitals are now short $484 million in federal and state Medicaid reimbursements.

Supporters say the expansion of Medicaid would extend health insurance to about 60,000 Mainers.

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