The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee has started the lengthy process of determining how to expand Medicaid, as approved by voters last month.
As many as 90,000 Mainers could be covered by the expansion, but it will take many months before they are actually covered.
“The expectation was that we were going to come in and find the money to get this thing implemented. No, what we met today was basically a fact finding,” says Sen. Jim Hamper, a Republican from Oxford who co-chairs the committee.
It will also take months to get federal approval of the expansion, and DHHS needs to hire and train about 100 new workers to handle the applications. The panel also has to figure out when to provide additional state dollars to pay for health care claims, which could be early in 2019.
“My hope is that the administration will move quickly,” says Democratic state Rep. Drew Gattine of Westbrook, committee co-chair. “I don’t want to model out a scenario where people have to wait until the very last day to get the health care they need and deserve.”