During the Republican Governors Association conference last night, Maine’s Gov. Paul LePage (R) told reporters he’s “not lifting a finger” to institute a health insurance exchange for his state. In his official letter to the federal government, LePage explains that’s because he doesn’t want Maine to be “complicit in the degradation of our nation’s premier health care system.”
Maine was well on its way to implementing Obamacare before the 2010 election cycle gave the GOP control over the state legislature and governor’s office. But LePage has now confirmed that Maine will join the other Republican-controlled states that continue to resist Obamacare — even in the wake of the Supreme Court upholding the law and President Obama’s recent reelection:
On Wednesday, Gov. LePage signed the letter along with 20 other Republican governors that was sent to the Obama administration requesting more time and guidance.
On Thursday, however, LePage sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying the state would not create a state-run exchange and saying the health reform law “is a stepping stone to a single-payer system. Maine will not be complicit in the degradation of our nation’s premier health care system.”
Yesterday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius extended the deadline for states to inform HHS whether they intend to establish their own statewide exchange, in an attempt to offer the 20 Republican governors the time they requested. If states like Maine choose not to set up an exchange, the federal government will step in and do it for them. And the Portland Press Herald reports that Maine lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are now bemoaning the wasted opportunity to build an insurance marketplace that specifically fits Maine’s needs, since LePage’s refusal to implement an exchange ensures that those decisions will now simply be turned over to the federal government.
As opposed to LePage’s assertion that health care reform would “degrade” what is already a “premier health care system,” six out seven doctors agree that the United States’ current health system isn’t working, largely because of the country’s high rates of uninsurance. Setting up state exchanges and expanding state-run Medicaid programs under Obamacare would help work toward expanding health insurance to the Americans who are currently uninsured.