House Republicans Stand Firm Delaying Medicaid Expansion for the Young and Healthy

4/19/18, Maine First Media Staff Report,

Maine House Republicans had one piece of leverage left — and they used it to great success.

On the last day of the 2018 Legislative Session, the Legislature still had not passed a budget. An overwhelmed Appropriations Committee stalled on a flood of passed legislation. And so-called legislative “leadership” played games with the calendar while dozens of bills — including several high-profile bills — remained on the table.

Republicans want tax conformity. They want Maine’s tax code to conform to the federal tax code following passage of the successful Trump Tax Cuts.

Democrats knew this. And they tried to use it to get tens of millions of dollars to fund Medicaid for the Young and Healthy (or so-called Medicaid expansion). 

The Democrat leadership team tried to work the running clock — but it backfired.

As Republican Rep. Beth O’Connor of Berwick explains, Speaker of the Swamp, Sara Gideon, spent the final day purposely avoiding Republican bills, in a hope to convince the GOP to vote for a five-day extension. The extension would be used to make a deal — tax conformity in exchange for Medicaid for the Young and Healthy funding.

A deal looked likely, with Senate President Mike Thibodeau and Senate Republican leadership making it clear how important tax conformity is to them. In fact, Thibodeau even cited passing tax conformity as one of the reasons for ending his bid for the Blaine House.

The Maine Senate unanimously voted to extend the session at the expense of hardworking Mainers. Senate Majority Leader and RINO Gubernatorial candidate, Garrett Mason (R-Lisbon) sponsored the order.

Only House Republicans stood in the way of throwing Maine’s elderly and disabled populations under the bus in favor of the young, healthy and even illegal aliens.

And Democrats overplayed their hand.

As Republican Rep. Larry Lockman of Amherst explained to Maine First Media, with tax season being over, there is no rush for tax conformity. The legislature can revisit tax conformity in January in the new session.

On the flip side, Medicaid for the Young and Healthy will cost Mainers a minimum of $54-Million in the first year, increasing to more than $81-Million by 2021. They needed $3.8-Million just to hire staff to implement the monstrous policy.

A vote to extend the session five days would require a 2/3’s supermajority in both bodies to pass.

When Speaker Gideon called for the extension vote, House Republicans held together. With a final tally of 82-66, the vote fell well short of the 2/3’s required.

From there, the House went on a tear, voting on major bills at lightning speed. Roll-calls were hastily held on items like the Female Genital Mutilation Ban, E-Verify, Right to Work and many more. House Democrats killed all of those bills. Maine First Media will have full stories on each soon.

With about 20-Minutes to go before the session would end at midnight, “leadership” took a second step up to the batter’s box, voting on a five-day extension yet again. And again, House Republicans stood together — the final vote, 82 for the extension, 65 against, — well shy of 2/3’s of the chamber.

Now, past midnight, partisan wrangling continues with points of order calls and objections.

But none of that will change the fact that Democrats tried to play their leverage advantage. They pull out every trick in the book to try and shove granny to the back of the Medicaid line and usher the young and healthy to the front of the line. But their run-out-the-clock games backfired.

Medicaid expansion will likely be heading to the courts now.

In the meantime, we recommend reading Rep. O’Connor’s op-ed explaining how lawmakers wasted time on the taxpayer dime, including holding a pizza party when they should have been holding votes.