GOP governors across the country are so resistant to implementing Obamacare, they’re unwilling to expand their Medicaid programs under the health reform law at the expense of the low-income residents in their states. And Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) actually wants to go even further — not only does he oppose expanding Medicaid to extend health care to additional poor Mainers, but he’s also seeking to contract the program to drop 37,000 low-income people who currently have Medicaid coverage.
But the Obama administration will prevent LePage from carrying out that plan. Federal officials rejected the governor’s proposal to drop coverage for nearly 15,000 parents with incomes that fall between the federal poverty level ($23,050 for a family of four) and 133 percent of the poverty level ($30,657 for a family of four), as well as an additional 6,000 19- and 20-year-olds whose incomes put them in that gap. Obamacare seeks to establish a new eligibility level for Medicaid at 133 percent of the poverty level, which will help eliminate the coverage gap that often prevents America’s working poor from being able to afford the health services they need.
Luckily for LePage and unluckily for Maine’s low-income residents, the governor will still be able to satisfy his desire to scale back his state’s Medicaid rolls to some extent. Maine used to extend coverage to low-income people whose incomes exceeded 133 percent of the poverty level, and the federal government acknowledged that Obamacare can’t stop LePage from dropping Maine’s Medicaid eligibility level down to that 133 percent threshold — a move that will purge about 20,000 Mainers from the Medicaid rolls at the beginning of March.
LePage has been open about his distaste for President Obama’s landmark health reform law, which seeks to ensure that over 30 million previously uninsured Americans have access to health care by 2014. Following Obama’s reelection, the governor asserted he wouldn’t “lift a finger” to meet impending deadlines to implement the Affordable Care Act because he believes the law represents “the degradation of our nation’s premier health care system.” The thousands of Maine residents set to lose their access to Medicaid coverage on March 1, however, may not share the same esteem for the United States’ current health care system.