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Good Morning. This is Maine Governor Paul LePage.

In the Fall Campaign, I promised to get Maine’s fiscal house in order. As part of my pledge, I committed to repaying Maine’s hospitals the hundreds of millions owed in unpaid MaineCare reimbursements.

From York County to Aroostook, my campaign organized rallies of concerned Maine citizens at hospitals to show support for our local health care facilities and the professionals who care for Maine’s sick and injured. The $400 million owed has been a big factor in the loss of 600 good paying health care jobs in our state over the last several years.

Along with the Legislative Candidates attending these rallies, I pledged to make good on our debts to Maine’s hospital. The Supplemental Budget I introduced last week makes a significant down payment on that promise.

My budget pays our hospitals $248 Million owed back as far as 2006 in unpaid MaineCare reimbursements. Bills that are four years old will just be getting paid this spring assuming my budget passes.

That is almost a quarter of billion dollars that will be paid into some of Maine’s largest employers in communities large and small throughout our State.

The state allocation of $69.5 million is needed immediately to maximize the federal Medicaid match and to help healthcare providers manage their obligations in what continues to be a tough economy.

I am asking the Legislature to pass my Supplemental Budget as an emergency piece of legislation so it will go into effect the moment I sign the bill. This requires a two-thirds vote of support and it is important that we get it.

Fast action is needed for a couple reasons. For starters, many of Maine’s most essential service providers are facing a cash flow crisis because of the state’s past refusal to pay its bills. In a tough economy, we cannot afford to lose jobs or see community investments reduced because the state owes money to our hospitals.

More directly, the federal match to our state MaineCare dollars decreases over time. For example, it will take an additional $5 Million in state money to pay the hospitals the same amount after April 1, 2011. If we wait until the summer, our share of the $248 million climbs by an additional $20 million. As is almost always the case, it will never get easier to pay our bills in the future so now is the time!

Moving forward, we are making changes to how MaineCare pays for services so the state will remain current. We will also be looking for opportunities to repay the rest of the balance, an additional $150 million, as part of my biennial budget due out in a few weeks.

Working Maine families know that their budgets are not balanced until all the bills are paid. The neighbor down the street who delivers the firewood, the utilities, the mortgage and the taxes all have to be paid. The same rules, as outlined in Article IX, Section 14 of the Maine Constitution, are supposed to apply to Maine State Government.

If you agree that we should be paying our bills on time, please consider talking with your legislator to encourage fast passage of my Supplemental Budget. I think most of our lawmakers agree, but it never hurts for our elected representatives in Augusta to hear from the people they represent.

Thank you for listening. I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend. But if you do wind up visiting one of Maine’s Community hospitals as either a patient or visiting a loved one, please be sure to let them know that help is on the way.

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