The public will get an opportunity to weigh in on Governor LePage's proposed $221 million in budget cuts to Maine health care this week at three days of public hearings in Augusta. Those who cannot attend can submit written testimony by email or letter. The hearings can be listened to live on the internet at www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appr-opriations_committee/audio/index.htm.

Public hearings will be held Wednesday, December 14, through Friday, December 16, in Room 228 at the State House on the cuts proposed on December 6 in Gov. LePage's supplemental budget, "An Act to Make Supplemental Appropriations and Allocations for the Expenditures of State Government and To Change Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2012 and June 30, 2013."

The hearings are scheduled to run until member of the public who have signed up to give oral testimony have done so, or by 9:30 p.m., whichever comes first.

The following is the schedule of the public hearings by broad category:

• Wednesday, December 14, starting at 9 a.m.

Public hearing on budget cuts to elder services, services for developmental disabilities, children's mental health services, Child Medicaid, optional Medicaid coverage to families, foster care/adoption assistance and consumer directed attendant services. Also included would be the portions of the budget related to boarding homes that provide assisted living services and house the elderly and disabled, known as Private Non-Medical Institutions (PNMI) and Targeted Case Management cuts affecting the areas mentioned above.

• Thursday, December 15, starting at 8:30 a.m.

Public hearing on cuts to services for adult mental health, substance abuse, Targeted Case Management services to homeless persons and those with HIV, optional Medicaid coverage for certain 19 and 20 year olds and the Childless Adult Waiver program. Also included would be the portions of the budget related to boarding homes that provide assisted living services and house the elderly and disabled, known as Private Non-Medical Institutions (PNMI) and Targeted Case Management cuts affecting those areas not specifically mentioned.

• Friday, December 16, starting at 8:30 a.m.

Public hearing on cuts to the Fund for a Healthy Maine, The committee will also hear testimony on cutting optional Medicaid services not previously heard, hospital and outpatient reimbursements, DHHS initiatives, money transfers from one fund to another (interfund transfers) and the amount of MaineCare money reimbursed fro medical and pharmacy claims (cycle payments).

This will be the day that reductions for FMAP, the federal matching funds that Maine receives for healthcare, will be addressed. FMAP, the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, is the amount of money the federal government pays towards MaineCare, the state Medicaid program for low income and disabled people. Medicaid is a partnership between states and the federal government; each state pays part of the cost of its the program and the federal government matches what the state pays in. The portion of costs paid by the federal government is called the "match" or FMAP rate. The FMAP rate for a state can range anywhere from a low of 50% to a high of 83% - the exact match rate changes from year to year and depends on changes in a state's poverty rate relative to all other states. FMAP rates in Maine in mid-2011 were 63.8 percent.