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Politics

LePage Says He'd Rather Go To Jail Than Expand Medicaid And Put Maine In 'Red Ink'

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Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press
Mainers for Health Care rally outside the State House prior to Gov. Paul LePage's State of the State address, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Augusta, Maine.

Maine's fiscally conservative governor says he'd rather go to jail before expanding Medicaid and putting the state in "red ink.''

Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, told WVOM Radio Tuesday that he can't be forced to expand eligibility for Medicaid without an approved funding plan. 

"Nobody can force me to put the state in red ink," LePage said. "And I will not do that.  So, you can tell the Maine people, I'd go to jail before I put the state in red ink."

Earlier this month, LePage vetoed a bill lawmakers approved to fund the program.  An effort to override the veto failed. 

Meanwhile, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court hears oral arguments next week on LePage's appeal of a ruling requiring him to submit paperwork to federal officials that would start the flow of federal dollars.  

Washington will pay 90 percent of the cost of expanded benefits under the Affordable Care Act. But LePage says the Maine Legislature needs to come up with an acceptable plan to pay the other 10 percent, plus the cost of administration.

Nearly three out of five voters last fall voted to expand Medicaid to 80,000 Mainers by July 2. Advocates are encouraging Mainers to sign up.
 
The Associated Pres contributed to this story.