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Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

In 2001, the Maine Legislature had a debate about Medicaid expansion. Democrats touted its benefits. One liberal said “savings were to be realized.” Others argued that welfare expansion would “address rising health care costs.”

Another said, “Most importantly, it provides access to health care.”

Fast forward to today. Liberal politicians are saying we should expand welfare for the very same reasons they gave more than a decade ago. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Welfare expansion did not increase access to health care. It did not lower costs. People on welfare still use the emergency room at alarming rates, and Maine’s uninsured did not decrease. In 2013, Maine had 110,000 uninsured – the same as in 2001.

Costs did not decrease with welfare expansion. Just the opposite. Medicaid spending has doubled as a share of our state budget in the past 15 years. We are now getting less money from the federal government. This has led to cost shifting onto Maine taxpayers. To deal with those rising costs, the State refused to pay its hospitals $750 million.

Liberals want to convince you that expansion will benefit everyone. I wish they were right, but they are not. Welfare expansion has weakened Maine’s safety net for our most needy people – the elderly, disabled and mentally ill.

Our elderly and disabled Mainers continue on waiting lists hoping to receive needed services. You may even know someone who is on Medicaid today, but is unable to get services they need. Liberals call this compassionate.

It is wrong to expand health care services to 35-year-old adults who are capable of working, while neglecting to take care of our most vulnerable.

I cannot support welfare expansion for two reasons. First, it has already deteriorated our health care system by crowding out services for the truly needy. Second, expansion would cover those who can get health care for only a few dollars a week.

Welfare expansion was bad deal back then, and it is a bad deal today. We cannot let history repeat itself.

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