A moderate GOPer on “the people who keep me up at night.” What does it mean for his party’s future?

Rep. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta)

Rep. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta)

Matt Pouliot, a freshman GOP Maine House member gave a fine floor speech this week on Medicaid expansion. The proposal was crafted by two respected moderate Republicans and includes cost-controls through managed care.

Pouilot said that he’s voting for “the people who keep me up at night.” They’re the folks who make under the federal poverty level and won’t get any subsidies at all to buy private insurance.

Before he was sworn in, he was about to lose his health insurance, which he had through his parents. Rep. Pouliot was self-employed and managed to stay insured because he became a member of the Maine Legislature.

Rep. Pouliot wondered how many young Mainers “forego starting their own business because of concerns with how they will afford health insurance” and noted how important it is to provide coverage to the young people who are entrepreneurs. After all, he said, these are the folks we want to keep in Maine.

Moderate Republicans, Medicaid expansion and the party’s future

Large bipartisan majorities of Maine legislators have voted for Medicaid expansion, but not by veto-proof majorities.

Opposition to Medicaid expansion is being led by the Maine Republican Party’s top elected official, Gov. LePage, even as moderate Republicans have maintained a focus on how this public health insurance plan helps Mainers and Maine’s economy.

The party platform doesn’t mention Medicaid expansion explicitly but the party Chair thinks the platform, which states, “healthcare is not a right. It is a service…Only market based solutions will solve the problems,” is against expansion.

In New Hampshire, Republican leaders hammered out a compromise on Medicaid expansion that works with private insurance companies.

But LePage and most Maine Republican leaders showed no interest in this, or indeed any alternative approach.

The party’s conservative ideological allies and staff have denied that coverage saves lives, and show no evidence of having been kept up at night by people who will be left high and dry.

Instead, they prefer game-playing and enemies’ lists to solutions for Maine people who need care and for care-providers and hospitals who are financially stressed.

While expansion foes assert disabled people on waiting lists are their priority, they have no plan to cover them. In contrast, the moderates’ proposal, which they reject, does.

The Maine Republican Party is divided on this issue.

Where the party will ultimately go no doubt depends on whether Gov. LePage is re-elected. Thus the gubernatorial race affects even more than who will live in the Blaine House and who will hold executive power.

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.