AUGUSTA – A Republican group met Tuesday to address their concerns over the proposed wording of a ballot question regarding Medicaid expansion.
Former Senate President Rick Bennett and other Republican lawmakers today urging Secretary of State Matt Dunlap to revise the wording of the Medicaid expansion ballot question that will appear before voters in November.
“The phrasing is extremely important so they really know what they’re voting on,” said Rep. Heather Sirocki, R-Scarborough.
The current language of the questions asks: “Do you want Maine to provide health insurance through Medicaid for qualified adults under the age of 65 with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line (which is now about $16,000 for a single person and $22,000 for a family of two)?”
“The proposed language calls this an insurance program and it is not an insurance program,” said Former Maine State Senate President Rick Bennett.
The group wrote a letter to Secretary Dunlap seeking to replace the word “insurance”, saying the wording doesn’t accurately describe the initiative.
“It would expand the Medicaid program to include single, childless, able bodied, in other words able to work, adults,” Rep. Sirocki said.
“This Medicaid welfare expansion referendum seeks to expand taxpayers paying for someone else’s healthcare,” Bennett said.
While the group didn’t offer a specific term, they say phrases like “taxpayer-funded health benefits” or “government funded health benefits” would be more appropriate.
Lawmakers also suggest the question include the cost of the change, which they estimate to be at least $50 million per year.
“It may require a longer, more complex question,” said Bennett.
Supporters of the initiative see no problem with the wording.
“I certainly think that Medicaid is an insurance program and so its not inaccurate to reference it as insurance because that’s exactly what it is,” said Robyn Merrill, co-chair of the steering committee for “Mainers for Healthcare”.
The period for public comment on the wording of this question ends September 1st. Those interested in commenting on the initiative should contact Sec. Dunlap. You can also contact your local Senator or Representative for help explaining the language of the initiative.