Maine Governor Paul LePage Refuses to Implement Medicaid Expansion After Ballot Measure Wins

The vote wasn’t even close.

Republican Maine Governor Paul LePage said Wednesday his administration will not expand Medicaid, a day after voters approved a ballot measure to broaden the program.

On Tuesday, Maine voters approved Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, or as it’s more commonly known, Obamacare. Maine becomes the first state to do so through a referendum. A total of 343,838 ballots were cast, a higher-than-expected turnout in a state with a population barely over 1 million. Medicaid expansion passed by 202,616 to 141,222 or 59% to 41%.

LePage, who is term-limited out of office next year, previously vetoed five Medicaid expansion bills passed by the state’s legislature. Frustrated by inaction, Maineiacs gathered the required signatures to put the referendum on Tuesday’s ballot.

Leading up to the vote, LePage made numerous statements accusing the referendum’s supporters of lying to voters, but offered no proof. LePage claimed expansion would cost Maine $100 million. After his defeat at the polls, LePage made the same claims.

But LePage’s figure is twice what the Maine Legislature’s Office of Fiscal Program and Review, which ranks the cost of bills for the Legislature, estimated. According to their figures, Maine would require $54.4 million and be matched with federal funds of $525 million to provided needed affordable healthcare to about 80,000 people. Nearly 8% of Maine’s working poor are still without medical coverage.

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