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Maine House Endorses Medicaid Expansion but Passage Unlikely

AUGUSTA, Maine -  After more than an hour of debate, the House voted to expand Medicaid coverage in Maine to an estimated 70,000 poor residents and generate millions in federal funds for health care providers. Westbrook Democrat Drew Gattine argued for expansion of coverage.

"That includes 3,000 veterans, about 1,000 of their family members," Gattine said. "Most of the people impacted work in industries without broad based, employer-based coverage, such as agriculture, fishing, food service, child care and retail sales."

Opponents argued the expansion is not a good long-term investment and the bill's future is uncertain. The Senate has yet to consider the measure and Gov. Paul LePage has said he would veto any bill lawmakers passed that would expand Medicaid.

Rep. Deb Sanderson, R-Chelsea opposed expansion.  "The reasons why Maine shouldn't expand in the last session still hold true in this session. We aren't setting priorities. We just passed a budget that protects and funds programs, projects and initiatives that do not address the neediest in our state."


Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.