A 700 percent return on investment — every single year

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To the Editor;
Last week’s message from the Gov. Paul LePage bemoaned the fiscal irresponsible Medicaid expansion. I for one applaud a governor who espouses fiscal responsibility. But I wonder if this governor’s ideology has clouded his sense of fiscal responsibility. Yes, we would have to pony up an extra $63 million (rising to an extra $100 million). However, in return for that the state would receive a return of $525 million – every single year! Governor that’s a return of about 700 percent per year! Where else are we going to get a return on that kind of investment?

Several years ago you pushed through your first tax cut amounting to about $60 million per year. That investment was supposed to draw business and high income folks to the state. Even though the state is in a much healthier financial state today, when I compare our state’s progress to others over the last few years, it is hard to see how that $60 million (spent every year!) has paid dividends. Certainly not compared to spending $63 million (.7 percent of the annual budget) and getting a 700 percent return on investment – every single year!

But, you might argue, that extra $525 million would go to pay for something we currently don’t have to pay for (those 70,000 people currently without access to health care). Well, we already do pay for this — in the millions of dollars of uncompensated health care provided by our struggling hospitals. And in the millions of hours of lost productivity to employers when their employees call in sick (or with sick kids) – and a dozen other ways that may not be countable on a spreadsheet, but do affect the wellbeing of all of us Mainers.

One of the many problems that my liberal friends have is in making decisions without understanding (or caring about) the fiscal consequences. But governor, in this case, that might also be true of my anti-government ideologue friends as well. A return of 700 percent on our investment – every single year? We’d be nuts to pass that up.

You point out that Maine is a very poor state and that Medicaid expansion would put 24 percent of the state’s population onto the taxpayer’s bill. Yes, that’s true. This would add 70,000 low income Mainers to the Medicaid rolls (welfare?). But frankly (just between you and me), the money’s already there – sitting in Washington. Why not collect our share? $525 million new dollars coming in to our state every single year. We have to have ideological blinders on to pass that up. Or maybe we just don’t like freeloaders. But why take it out on the thousands of people earning $9 per hour who can’t afford $1,500 for health insurance?

Chris Maas

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