Speaker of the House Pledges to Implement Medicaid Expansion Referendum

Gideon: We will be fully and faithfully implementing this law.

In Maine, we look out for each other and we take care of one another. We saw it last week after the windstorm left most of us without power as neighbors took care of neighbors. And we saw it again this past Tuesday when Mainers said yes, we all deserve access to affordable, quality healthcare.

Good afternoon, I’m Sara Gideon, the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives. Thanks for tuning in.

This past Election Day, Maine voters resoundingly approved the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. As a result, 70,000 hardworking Mainers will be eligible for affordable insurance and will have access to the care they need when they need it.

This is a huge victory for Mainers who will no longer have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for needed medical care.

It’s a victory for our small hospitals and community clinics, that can stay open and continue to provide needed care in all parts of our state. Expansion will create thousands of new jobs for nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers across the state, especially in rural Maine.

And it’s a victory for our economy – this referendum will a bring $500 million dollars into our economy, creating new jobs and increased opportunity, along with the benefits of a healthier workforce.

But, the fight isn’t over.

Unfortunately, Governor LePage and his allies are already threatening to block implementation of Medicaid. They’ve already pledged to obstruct the results of the election and erect barriers to implementation.

As Speaker of the House, I want to be clear in my response: we will be fully and faithfully implementing this law. The legislature and our Appropriations Committee will move swiftly to fund Medicaid expansion – as required by law. The governor and DHHS commissioner will implement its requirements as well, as they are obligated to do.

Any attempts to illegally delay or subvert this law will not be tolerated and will be fought with every recourse at our disposal. We will not be giving an inch, because it is a matter of life and death for too many Mainers who’ve waited too long.

Mainers passed Question 2 because they want more health care, not less. They don’t want to see their neighbors suffer anymore. They want to give our state the tools we need to fight the opioid epidemic, to keep critical rural hospitals open for business and to create sorely needed jobs.

And we are not going to let Governor LePage or anyone else continue to create unnecessary barriers.

Mainers demanded affordable access to healthcare this week, and that is exactly what we intend to deliver.

I’m Speaker Sara Gideon, thanks for listening.