Maine GOPer: Maybe Poor People Will Work More If We Reject Obamacare

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March 13, 2014 10:54 a.m.

Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion faces a tough reality in Maine. Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed the proposal last year and, though the state Senate approved another bill Wednesday, it didn’t pass with enough votes to override another veto.

But maybe that’s a good thing, according to at least one Republican state lawmaker. Maybe by rejecting the law’s Medicaid expansion, intended to provide health coverage to low-income residents, those people will be encouraged to work more and make more money.

That’s what Maine Rep. Deb Sanderson (R) told the Portland Press-Herald.

“Maybe it will incentivize some folks” to work more so they can make more money, Sanderson told the newspaper. She also criticized Medicaid expansion for turning people away from the private insurance market.

“You’re taking personal choice away from people who may choose to not be on the (Medicaid) rolls,” Sanderson said. “That’s lousy.”

If Maine doesn’t implement the Medicaid expansion, low-income Mainers will need to make more money to benefit from Obamacare. As TPM has reported, people below the poverty line don’t qualify for tax subsidies to purchase private insurance through HealthCare.gov — so if their state doesn’t expand Medicaid, they’re unlikely to get coverage through the law.

More than 24,000 low-income Maine residents are estimated to fall in that Medicaid expansion gap.

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