How you know the Alexander Medicaid report has been thoroughly discredited

Rhode Island welfare consultant Gary Alexander, left, and Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew prepare to answer questions from the Health and Human Services Committee on Jan. 14, 2014. Photo credit: Mario Moretto l BDN

Rhode Island welfare consultant Gary Alexander, left, and Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew prepare to answer questions from the Health and Human Services Committee on Jan. 14, 2014. Photo credit: Mario Moretto l BDN

After the Alexander Group’s report on Medicaid expansion came out, it was subject to rather pointed criticism.

So much was wrong with it, including a math error that meant that its cost estimate was off by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now it’s clear that it really, truly has been thoroughly discredited.

And where does that proof reside? It’s in the actions of the LePage administration.

As reporter Steve Mistler writes, regarding internal emails from the administration:

On Feb. 11, DHHS spokesman John Martins emailed Mayhew, Sam Adolphsen, the deputy finance director, and Nick Adolphsen, a legislative liaison. He discussed a memo from Erik Randolph, a member of the Alexander Group, that presumably defended the Medicaid study. Sam Adolphsen wrote Friday that he liked the memo, but questioned whether the agency should wait for the “next attack” to make it public.

Martins replied: “We are succeeding on all fronts on getting the expansion message out and the focus on the (Alexander Group) report has died down.”

Martins also wrote:

We haven’t lost anything – we have this (memo) ready for the next salvo – but I think if we have data, especially data that we can report as new, Commissioner, we can accomplish your message objective without tying it to the (Alexander Group) report.

That’s right. After getting the report, as part of a no-bid, nearly $1million contract, the administration counts success as having less focus on the report. They think they’d do better putting out their message “without tying it” to the report.

And what would the memo look like, the one that would be issued after the “next attack” surfaces?

Well, according to reporter Scott Thistle:

Martins also referenced a draft press release about the memo noting, “I’ve drafted the attached release, which is pretty ‘weedy’ and has some strong quotes in it that may need to be tempered.”

Instead of a memo on the report that clearly and professionally lays out the methodology used for its controversial and yet-unexplained estimates, the draft memo meant to defend the report evidently has rather florid language.

As these internal documents show, rather than helping them make the case against Medicaid expansion, the Alexander report has turned into a liability.

It’s not persuasive, so the LePage administration would rather not talk about it, and having less attention on it is seen as helpful. Failing that, their response will be to put out strong rhetoric.

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.