Maine’s Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage complained that health care costs could be held down with preventative care — like the types of programs he’s cut from the state budget.
The combative Republican governor discussed the state’s health care system and potential cost-cutting reforms Tuesday during his weekly radio appearance on WVOM-FM, reported the Maine Sun Journal.
“I think everybody should, can and will have it,” LePage said. “The problem is, we say that we’re a free-market system except that hospitals and insurance is a monopoly and we don’t really truly want to sit down and fix it. Everyone talks about access, access, access and talks about government, government, government paying for it — and no one wants to sit down and talk about what’s a fair price for a fair service.”
LePage complained about wide disparities between the cost of various procedures from hospital to hospital within the state, and he pointed out that Maine’s health care system is generally more expensive than neighboring states.
“We have the quality of care but what we don’t have is the affordability,” LePage said. “We’re trying to lower the cost of education for our youth so they have more money to contribute to health care and the direction of our economy.”
The governor opposes expanding nearly all forms of taxpayer-funded health care, and instead said he would rather see a fundamental change in the way illness and other health conditions are treated in the U.S.
“If you’re sick, we pay doctors to get you healthy instead of paying doctors to keep you healthy,” LePage said. “I think we’d want to keep a society healthy instead of treating illness. It’s not going to happen overnight.”
But, as the newspaper pointed out, LePage has already cut programs from the state budget that did what he wants health care providers to do.
That partnership was funded by about $5 million from the Fund for a Healthy Maine, which comes from the proceeds from a 1998 class-action lawsuit against tobacco companies.
The governor proposed the cuts last year, and many of the partnership’s contracts will be ended when they expire next month.
LePage also wants more of the tobacco settlement money to go toward preventing alcohol and drug use, but that will shift funding from smoking prevention, physical activity, nutrition and weight loss and chronic disease prevention.
He has vetoed Medicaid expansion at least five times since entering office, but a recent radio appearance made clear he doesn’t really understand what he opposes.
His office was forced to issue a statement later that day admitting LePage had been wrong about some his claims about Medicaid and how an expansion might help some Maine residents.