AUGUSTA – Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Mary Mayhew on Tuesday called on members of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee to reject the recommendations of Health and Human Services Committee lawmakers who, largely along party lines, rejected Governor Paul LePage’s DHHS spending reform proposals.
Members of the HHS Committee voted late Monday on the 2016-2017 budget proposals related to DHHS. They are set to report back to the budget-writing AFA Committee Tuesday with the results of their votes.
“It is incredibly discouraging to see Democratic lawmakers fighting to continue irresponsible spending and prioritizing able-bodied young adults over the critical needs of our elderly and severely disabled,” said Commissioner Mayhew. “We cannot go back to the days of crisis-oriented budgets and uncontrolled program growth that ignores the needs of our most vulnerable.”
Committee Republicans split with their Democratic colleagues to support most of the Governor’s proposed budget initiatives. Democrats, who control a majority of legislative committee seats, opposed the major reforms proposed by the Administration that would pay for important new initiatives and maintain largely flat spending at DHHS.
Democratic lawmakers voted to continue paying for state-funded welfare for non-citizens, oppose reforms to methadone reimbursement, oppose reprioritizing tobacco settlement funds for primary care, reject commonsense General Assistance reform, oppose key staffing improvements at Riverview Psychiatric Center, reject Medicaid payment reform, and more.
After opposing further eligibility and payment reforms that would align Maine with the rest of the country, lawmakers failed to identify alternative savings to provide the $70 million necessary to fund critical services to our elderly in nursing facilities and severely disabled Mainers on Medicaid waitlists.
“The People of Maine have spoken loudly, making clear that they want a DHHS that prioritizes our most vulnerable citizens, is fiscally responsible, pays its bills on time, and isn’t looking for another bailout from the taxpayers for its uncontrolled growth,” Commissioner Mayhew added.
More information on the Governor’s DHHS budget initiatives can be found at www.maine.gov/dhhs/budget.