MaineCare expansion headed to Gov. Paul LePage

Senate OKs Medicaid expansion for 70,000 Maine residents; bill headed to Gov. LePage's desk

Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- The Democratic-led state Senate approved a bill Thursday night to expand health care coverage for 70,000 Maine residents but cut off the state's participation in the program after three years.

Lawmakers approved a bill to expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul by a 23-12 vote. Medicaid is administered as MaineCare in the state.

The measure will now go to Republican Gov. Paul LePage, where it faces a possible veto.

LePage vetoed a more sweeping Medicaid expansion bill last month that included a provision to repay the state's hospitals for unpaid Medicaid services, one of his top priorities.

The bill voted on Thursday would repeal the expansion on Dec. 31, 2016 when the federal government begins to gradually lower its share of the cost from 100 percent to no less than 90 percent by 2020. Medicaid recipients would also see larger co-payments under the bill passed Thursday in order to discourage abuse of the program.

The federal health care overhaul allows states to expand Medicaid coverage to adults making up to 133 percent of the poverty level. The government says 145,000 non-elderly Maine residents are uninsured.

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