Producer/Host: Meredith DeFrancesco
Issue: Environmental and Social Justice
Program Topic: The Maine legislature’s most recent cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services programs, including MaineCare.
Key Discussion Points:
a) The Maine legislature passes further budget cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). These include the elimination of 14,500 low income parents from MaineCare, who have income between 100-133% of the poverty level, and all 19 and 20 year olds under 150% of the poverty level. This effects an additional 7,000 Mainers. Both these measures and cuts to the Medicare Savings Program are currently in violation of the federal Affordable Care Act. The budget also includes cuts to the Drugs for the Elderly Program, and to the Fund for a Healthy Maine. Cuts to the latter include a $2 million reduction in state funding for Head Start, a $2 million cut to the Child Care Subsidy Program, $2.6 million to the Maine Families Home Visiting Program, and funding cuts for Family Planning and dental services.
b) Governor LePage asked for, and still plans to pursue much deeper cuts in DHHS spending. Press secretary Adrienne Bennett articulates more of the goals and beliefs behind the Governors pursuit to diminish government spending on health and human service programs, particularly MaineCare. This includes discussion on the governor’s latest controversial statement, to the Maine GOP convention, that those on government programs should “get off the couch and get a job.”
c) Appropriations Committee member Rep. Rotundo says that recent revenue re-projection numbers negated the needs for the DHHS cuts. She also says, that tax cuts also passed in the supplemental budget bill, are unfunded, causing a loss of revenue of a half a billion dollars, which will have to be made up for in future state budgets.
A) Ana Hicks, senior policy analyst, Maine Equal Justice Partners www.mejp.org
B) Adrienne Bennett, press secretary for Governor Paul LePage
C) Maine State Representative Peggy Rotundo (D- House District 79), Appropriations Committee House Democrat Lead (four Republicans legislators, leadership unavailable)
Call In Program: no