Maine lawmakers say Medicaid expansion bill can help fight addiction crisis, could allow 60,000 to receive coverage

December 27, 2015

A pair lawmakers is again proposing legislation to expand Maine's Medicaid system, hoping to tap federal funding that could help fight the state’s heroin addiction crisis. An expansion in Maine would add an estimated 60,000 people to the state's Medicaid rolls. Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Wilton), who has previously supported an expansion of the state and federally sponsored health insurance program for low-income families and individuals, said his bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Roger Katz (R-Augusta), will go before the Legislature when it convenes in January. Saviello said in Franklin County, drug addicts that end up in jail for committing crimes to support their habits are often too poor to afford health insurance, and when they are released from jail return to a cycle of crime and substance abuse without treatment and counseling available.  He said it makes more sense to get people healthcare coverage via Medicaid, where the federal government covers most of the costs of substance abuse treatment and counseling. Saviello believes he can get the bill passed in the House and the Senate but is uncertain he will have the votes to overturn a veto from Governor Paul LePage.