UPDATED - Governor says to Paradis, "I don't know what planet you're on." (with video)

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Dismisses concerns on cuts to Medicaid
27 December 2011

FORT KENT - During a workshop at the Fort Kent Senior Center in Fort Kent on Dec. 27 about the effects of proposed changes to Medicaid on the elderly population, Maine Governor Paul LePage said to Judy Paradis of Madawaska, "I don't know what planet you're on."

Cars packed the parking lot outside of the building and lined one side of Pine Street, the access road for the Senior Center. The standing-room only crowd at the Senior Center erupted into "boos" and some cheering after the governor's comment.

LePage was responding to Paradis' assertion that the governor may be biased toward business owners and wealthy people, who are a small percentage of the proportionally elderly and low-income population of northern Maine.  Statewide, sixty-five thousand people who are currently on Medicaid are facing removal from Medicaid benefits with the governor's proposed supplemental budget.

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FACING TOUGH QUESTIONS - LePage confronted several questions from senior citizens at a workshop on Tuesday afternoon in Fort Kent over his proposed cuts to Medicaid. - Julie Daigle image

LePage said, "...we are broke.  We don't take a whole lot of pride in this."

He said, "Come April first, I'm going to have to close schools or close nursing homes."

State representatives who were present to answer questions from the audience included John Martin, who said that the current state budget crisis could be traced back to having fought in two wars without raising taxes.  The federal government has cut back on funding to the states, which has contributed to the current budget shortfall.

"We wonder why we have a deficit," he said.

Martin said to those attending, "We will end up with a balanced budget.  The [Maine state] constitution is very clear that we will have one at the end of June."

In a phone interview on Dec. 28, Martin said, in terms of absolute numbers, the Maine county the Medicaid cuts would most affect would be Piscataquis County, not Aroostook County. He said Aroostook County was not even in the top three. In terms of percentage of the population, however, Martin was unsure of the exact impact on Aroostook County.

Martin said he asked the administration to request a waiver from the federal government a month or so ago in order to give lawmakers time to develop a plan to deal with the budgetary shortfall. He said the request has yet to be followed through.

"I don't know if [the Governor] was trying to create a crisis to prove a point," said Martin.

With that in mind, explained Martin, it is also true that a problem did exist that legislators needed to fix. According to Martin, the federal government has given the state waivers for the past 20 years, adding to the problem.

"There are only three states, as far as I know, that do it the way we do," he said.

During the workshop, Martin said looking to the resolutions found in other states may provide a possible solution. One such possible answer is to create a boarding home program, which would provide assistance to the elderly population who are unable to meet the requirements for federal medical assistance monies.

Paradis asked the governor, "When you go back to Augusta, think about the people of the St. John Valley when you make decisions... We don't expect miracles. We just want you to do your job."

In an interview before the Dec. 27 workshop, Paradis said, "This is what happens when we don't take care of business in Augusta. It's a created crisis... It's an embarrassment for the people of Maine."

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OTHER LEADERS SPEAK - Several lawmakers added their questions, concerns and opinions to the discussion on Tuesday at the Fort Kent Senior Center.  There were members of both parties voicing opposition and support for LePage's proposal to cut 65,000 Medicaid recipients from the states rolls. - Julie Daigle image

LePage dismissed her during the meeting with the statement,"It would be hell freezes over (sic) before you would ever support a Republican."

In an interview on Dec. 28, Paradis discussed the governor's Republicans-against-the-Democrats approach.

"When you are elected by the people [as governor], you can't take sides," she said.

Paradis is a former state representative, state senator and a Democrat. She chaired the Health and Human Services Committee and served for several years on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee during her tenure in Augusta. She was also recently inducted into the Maine Women's Hall of Fame.

Ross Paradis, also a former state representative, defended his wife publicly at the workshop, saying that he knows what planet she comes from, and it's Earth.

He said, "...I know what country she's from, I know what state she's from, I know what county she's from, I know what home she's from, in fact, I've been married to her for 41 years..."

He asked the governor to apologize to his wife. His request went unanswered.

Shelly Mountain, a member of Occupy Aroostook, twice asked the governor if he would apologize to Paradis.

The governor responded, "I don't feel the need to."

Despite the sometimes contentious nature of the meeting, Republican Representative Bernard Ayotte was pleased with the audience's overall response.

"I thought the meeting went really well. We were able to hear both sides," he said in an interview the following day.

Ayotte said that he felt some people misunderstood the full implications of the governor's statements, however.

"We actually are running out of money," he said.

Ayotte pointed to a statement Martin made during the workshop, claiming that Martin admitted that the Appropriations Committee had not appropriated enough money to "pay the bills."

Representative Peter Edgecomb echoed Ayotte's statements about the state budget in a phone interview Wednesday, saying, "If you are operating a business and you are losing money, you need to cut your losses."

Rather than waiting until April first, when the money runs out, he said the governor was trying to be proactive and to deal with the problem now.

"Maybe there's some legislators that would like to see this happen, to drag their feet, to see the governor [and the Republican Party] fail," he said. "You can understand why the governor was upset that nothing was done before last February."

Edgecomb said that people looking for assistance in other states are attracted to Maine's welfare system and look to relocate here.

"Pretty soon, those who are working won't be able to take care of those who aren't working," he said.

Edgecomb pointed out that the purpose of the workshop was for the governor to hear from the people what services are most valuable and necessary from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Reynold Raymond, CEO of Northern Maine General Hospital in Eagle Lake, addressed state lawmakers at the workshop, including Representatives Ayotte, Ken Theriault, Edgecomb, Alexander Ouellette, Martin and Troy Jackson's proxy, his son Chace Joe Jackson, saying that the proposed budget changes would affect not only the elderly, but also a much larger population in the area.  He said the proposed changes would cut $2.5 million from the budget of NMG.  It would leave 32 people at NMG without a home, including 16 elderly people, six people with acquired brain injury, and ten nursing home residents.  He said the proposed  budget would also affect adult case management at the hospital, negatively affecting 80 people through those changes. He also said $1.4 million would be lost from the hospital's budget for wages and benefits, leaving 40 to 50 people who provide the "actual care" without a job.  The local economy would lose the difference, $1.1 million, in terms of money spent in the area on things like fuel, food, etc. and would therefore also affect jobs in other fields.

"There's a double-edged sword we have to be very careful of," Raymond said.

The Aroostook Area Agency on Aging sponsored the workshop.

Comments

Lepage's Comment to Judy Paradis

It's about time that someone tells Judy Paradis to shut up. Little does she remember that She & the Demoracrats are the causes of these problems. They were in power close to forty years, and yet did nothing but made it worse, yet the governor is expected to change the demorcrats forty years of screw ups overnight. Tell it like it is Paul, I think you doing a great job!!

Troy Jackson's proxy

I don't remember voting for him? Where's was his Dad?

Working at 40 Mile on the Pinkham Road

Well, first of all Ftkentguy, if you want to have a real discussion about your assertions I suggest you not hide behind on a moniker that makes you feel more able to say whatever you like. My father operates a delimber for Robert McBreairty Jr. & Sons and stays at a woods camp at 30 Mile on Pinkham Road during the week, which is roughly 2 1/2 hours away from our home. The actual operation is farther into the woods than this. He was very disapointed he wouldn't be able to attend but I offered to go and deliver a message on his behalf. He initially didn't like that idea but since it's a very important issue that has many people concerned he decided it was important people knew where he stood. It's very common for legislators to have an individual go in the their stead if they're working on have multiple functions on the same day. If you ever have an issue or topic you'd like to discuss with him please feel free to contact him at 398-4081 or 436-0763. Take care

Don't Blame Someone Else

‘John Martin, who said that the current state budget crisis could be traced back to having fought in two wars without raising taxes. The federal government has cut back on funding to the states, which has contributed to the current budget shortfall.’ Get real John… Blaming the federal government for Maine’s financial problems and saying it’s because the federal government isn’t giving it as much federal funding anymore, is like a spoiled 40 year old man who blames his parents for his recent financial problems because they decided to cut him off. That 40 year old should have been paying his own bills anyway, and the same goes for Maine. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the federal government coffer was going to start running dry sooner or later, they don’t have any money either.

Governor LePage and People of the United States

Personally, the State nor the Government should not cut back on health care, education and emergency medical services. These are the basic things that keep America running. I'm not saying this because I'm a firefighter, I'm saying this because without this, we wont have the proper care. Let me say a few examples, If you have a broken arm, wouldn't you like to have the best care possible? If your son or daughter are school, wouldn't you like for them to have the best possible education they can get for the future? If your trapped in a burning house or stuck in a vehicle, wouldn't you like for those firefighters to have the best equipment out there to get you out safely? Everyone needs to start thinking about this because these cuts, are all going to affect us because of not having the proper care and services we have.

State buget

It is totally True that we have to get our State budget under control. The problem is that everyone wants to cut , but "not in our back yard". Folks we have had nearly 50 years of uncontrollable Democratic "Tax and Spend." no one was looking toward the future, but taking care of today! We all feel badly for thoes that need help. However, NO ONE was policing the regulations and they were being take huge advantate of. When you have people on MaineCare that can take vacations to the west coast several times a year and still have a consince to say ,Oh I deserve that and you still must pay my medical bills.. I only use this as an example, there is far too much "taking advantage of the System," We need to Police the System better and don't cut so as to hurt those that really need the services. Heck I've see people on Social Security and Disability pensions that Spend Tens of thousands of dollars renovating their properties and we either directly or indirectly pay their medical costs. I guess they are a lot smarter than those of us that WORKED all our lives to get where we are and have to carry them on our backs as well! My take would be to immediately review everyone on Maine Care, ie Medicade, check their entire lifestyle, have them submitt new "Audited" Applications and be prepaired to Prosecute any and all who have been fraudulantly useing the system. There are hoards of Them

There are many ways that

There are many ways that budgets can be balanced without having to go after medicare and social security from people who need it the most. Once people stop fighting so much and put their heads together they might be able to figure things out.

 

So many people do not have what it takes and are living in fear of having things such as medicare taken away from them that it is more than just a small concern.

Governor LePage's comments.......

Hey, everybody, WAKE UP ! That's what the NEW HEALTH CARE SYSTEM will be all about come 2014 ! Believe it. They will start collecting taxes to pay for the system and they will do whatever is needed NOT to pay - just like regular insurances do today. AND it will be legal. (They cover themselves pretty good). Just like in Canada where they DO NOT get help until some days later (if you're still alive ). BABY BOOMERS - WAKE UP - WE ARE THE 99% that will get NOTHING !!!!

LePage

Instead of cutting on education and health care why doesn't he start with a pay cut. It is ridiculous what these people get paid. I say why doesn't he try living on minimum wage with no healthcare and a poor education!

Gov. LePage in St. John Valley

Governor LePage probably was thinking of Julius Caesar's famous words,"I came, I saw, I conquered," when he decided to invite himself to the three information sessions in the County on his proposed cuts in the programs that are the lifeline to some of the most vulnerable in our society. Well, he came, he saw, but he did not conquer. He failed to convince the large attendance that his proposals are the only way to go. Thanks to many people who had the courage to speak up despite his bullying and insults, he was exposed as the purveyor of doom and gloom. The governor resorted to the blame game, rebuking the legislature -- which ironically has a majority of his own party in both the House and Senate -- for not cooperating with him to apply draconian cuts in order to balance the budget and chastising the federal government for its decrease of money coming to Maine. The blame game and strong arm tactics don't work with people who expect more from their elected officials especially after experiencing positive results over the years from elected officials from both parties. Fortunately, Maine has been blessed with hardworking Democrats and Republicans who work in a bipartisan way to maintain the safety net that is the mark of a caring and just society.