Maine Governor Paul R. LePage has submitted emergency legislation to pay the $484 million in debt owed to the state’s 39 community hospitals as part of a total direct investment of nearly $700 million into Maine’s economy in 2013.
A revenue bond on future liquor sales would cover the $186 million Maine owes its hospitals for MaineCare services dating back to 2009.
This would immediately trigger a $298 million federal match and erase the hospitals’ unpaid debt.
“By paying the State’s bills we strengthen our economy and the hospitals that care for and employ Maine people,” said Governor LePage. “Hospitals will be able do the same including paying new and existing employees and local vendors, pursuing capital improvements and maintaining the high level of service that has earned the state national recognition for quality care.”
The Governor said he will additionally issue voter-authorized bonds, including $51.5 million for transportation infrastructure improvements and $53.5 million for conservation, clean water upgrades, and construction and energy efficiency at post-secondary educational institutions.
The Governor has also proposed a $100 million facilities bond for the construction of new corrections facilities in Windham, to be paid from savings generated by more efficient operations.
The recipients, needless to say, are thrilled. Some of the reactions below:-
R. David Frum, President, Rumford and Bridgton Hospitals – “We have had selective layoffs, deferred hiring people, frozen wages and delayed needed capital projects due in part to our tenuous cash situation. Payment of the MaineCare debt is the single most effective way to improve the stability of our organization.”
“The sale of these bonds will allow the University of Maine to move forward with needed infrastructure upgrades on campus. Bond investments like these play an important part in ensuring that our students have access to quality educational facilities.” –James Page, UMaineSystem Chancellor
Steve Levesque, MRRA Executive Director – “I am delighted to hear that the Governor is releasing the bonds, which will allow for important economic development to proceed in Brunswick that will reoccupy these buildings and create jobs.”
Charles D. Therrian, President & CEO, MaineCoast Memorial Hospital – “As the second largest employer in Hancock County, the unpaid debt has played a major role in the management and operations of Maine Coast Memorial Hospital. Payment of the debt will be invested in people, services and community.”
Maria Vienneau, CEO/CNO, Millinocket Regional Hospital – “In July of 2012 we were forced to lay off staff, outsource jobs to a contractor to save money and reduce hours of clinical services in several departments. Payment of the debt will go directly back into the services and employees of our facility.”