Gov. Paul LePage took to the airwaves this week to make the blatantly false claim that Maine is getting fined “millions of dollars” by the federal government for providing MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program, to able-bodied low-income parents. The governor made his remarks during his weekly appearance on WVOM radio in response to a question about why he is eliminating MaineCare coverage for parents making over 40 percent of the federal poverty level (or $9,720 per year for a family of four).

“What we’re doing is anybody that’s an able-bodied person who’s on Medicaid can continue to have Medicaid if they go to work, but we’re not going to give freebies anymore,” the governor said falsely. “Ya gotta earn your way.”

In fact, the budget simply eliminates MaineCare coverage for all parents who don’t meet the 40-percent threshold regardless of whether they are working or not. The governor added that parents who would lose MaineCare coverage in the budget will be able to purchase subsidized private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act for “as little as $1.50 a month,” provided that they are working enough hours to be above the federal poverty level, because anyone below the poverty level is not eligible for subsidies.   

“Now, with the minimum wage …  nobody is… at the federal poverty [level] anymore,” continued LePage, who once called efforts to increase the minimum wage “attempted murder.”

LePage went on to argue that the proposed MaineCare cuts are necessary because the state isn’t complying with federal work requirements for Medicaid.

“We did that because we’re being fined by the federal government of two-parent households that aren’t working, that are collecting welfare and are not working,” lied the  governor. “We’re being penalized every single year. We right now owe the federal government upwards of about $15 million. I believe it’s $15 million, it’s millions of dollars anyways, because we are not meeting our goals of having two-parent households having one of the two-parent households working.” 

The problem is that there are no federal work requirements for Medicaid. In fact, the federal government will cover anyone making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level if a state chooses to accept millions of dollars to expand Medicaid, which Maine hasn’t. Emails to the governor’s press secretary and the Department of Health and Human Services seeking clarification were not returned.

 
 

The governor also made his case for creating a flat tax in his budget, dismissing claims from his critics that it’s just a give-away to wealthier Mainers. 

“I am so sick and tired of listening to the Democrats in the State of Maine saying there’s tax breaks for the rich,” said LePage. “Unless you’re on welfare in Maine, they consider you rich and … shame on you for saying that. And I’ll tell you something, if anybody should be considered rich, it’s the State of New Hampshire because all our wealthy people have moved there.”

However, according to an analysis of IRS data by conservative writer Travis Brown, author of “How Money Walks,” Maine actually gained a net $1.82 billion in wealth from out-of-staters settling in Maine between 1992 and 2015. $218.93 million of that money came from transplants from New Hampshire. The governor invited Brown to speak at the Blaine House back in 2013 to help make his argument that lower income taxes stimulate growth. 

And this week the governor finally said that the reason why he’s lost so much weight in the past few months is because he secretly had bariatric surgery on September 29. Said LePage, “There’s 50 less pounds of me to hate.”