LePage’s concern with Michaud and the politics of health care

With various polls indicating that Rep. Mike Michaud would be a serious Democratic candidate for Maine governor, incumbent Gov. LePage is taking notice.

One of the most critical policy questions facing the state is whether to expand Medicaid. This would bring tens of thousands of Mainers into the program and enable them to have regular care, treatment and prevention. Furthermore, the Maine Hospital Association supports this expansion and studies show it would be a net economic plus for the state.

Today Rep. Michaud heard from Mainers who don’t have health care.

And then Gov. LePage issued a press release, criticizing Michaud’s comments on Medicaid.

The release also included this statement:

 “Congressman Michaud, what is your plan to balance the federal budget, which already has a deficit of $17 trillion, and create a sustainable Medicaid program for our country?” the Governor asked.

This deficit figure is wrong. In fact, the deficit, which has been decreasing, is about 5% of $17 trillion.

What the governor (or his staff) likely did was to make a common error, mixing up the deficit (an annual gap between spending and revenues) and the debt (the accumulated amount owed by the federal government).

Frankly, what’s more interesting is the alacrity and energy with whom the governor and his staff responded to Michaud, demonstrating their interest in trying to knock him down.

And, in doing so with this statement, they evinced little interest in covering Maine people who lack health coverage and didn’t sound supportive of any Medicaid expansion.

As I’ve argued before, the LePage proposal for ten years of funding and a “global waiver,” is not a serious policy approach. This latest communication further suggests that the governor is, however, very interested, in the politics of health care.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.