Chasing the Free Money Dragon

Legislators gathered this week to try and link the LePage plan to pay off Maine’s hospital debt with Medicaid (MaineCare) expansion.

The plan is to expand the program to an additional 70,000 Mainers. The current number of people on the program as of October 2011 was 361,315

We currently spend 21% of ALL state funding on Medicare and Medicaid. The expansion will be paid for at the 100% level until 2020.

My friends want to grab at that like free beer and pizza, but here is the reason I’m cautious. On January 1, 2011, for every dollar Maine spent, the funding match from the Federal Government was $2.58

Eighteen months later, on October 1st of 2012, that dropped to $1.67

Hey, we had budgets to cut, and all those circumstances were unforeseen. Just suck it up and pay a bigger chunk of your own bills was the response from DC

That’s why I’m cautious about the expansion. That could happen again. Until the Federal Match is set in stone, there shouldn’t be a deal. If we expand the program, only to see the match cut in 2016 (election year) or 2018 (mid-term elections,) We as a state are well and truly screwed.