Release: MHPC Applauds Candidate’s Welfare Reforms; Warns Against Medicaid Expansion

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine – The Maine Heritage Policy Center, Maine’s preeminent free-market think tank, issued the following statement today regarding independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler’s welfare reform plans:

“Mr. Cutler’s welfare reform plans reflect a growing understanding that welfare fraud, waste and abuse are major problems in Maine,” said MHPC CEO Matt Gagnon. “Unfortunately, Mr. Cutler couples some legitimate and worthwhile welfare reform proposals with a devastating and wrong-headed expansion of Medicaid.”

“Adding 100,000 able-bodied young adults to a dysfunctional and unsustainable medical welfare program won’t solve Maine’s problems,” said Gagnon. “MHPC will continue to advocate against Obamacare’s unwise expansion of Medicaid, but we will work with any elected official who sincerely wishes to save Maine’s safety net.”

Regarding the specific details of the plan:

  • Implementing new technology, such as SmartCards with microchips, would bring greater accountability to individuals using Electronic Transfer Benefit (EBT) cards. However, this would not address abuse under the TANF program, which involves mostly cash transactions. Lawmakers should consider using such technology in combination with new legislation to limit what types of food may be purchased under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs, also known as Food Stamps.
  • The “Giving Back to ME” program is an interesting concept, yet we are concerned with any proposal that establishes new taxes and gives Mainers an incentive to move to places like New Hampshire and Florida.
  • Eliminating the “cliff effect” is a worthy idea that should be a priority of the Legislature regardless of who resides in the Blaine House. Maine’s welfare system currently creates a perverse set of incentives that discourage individuals from becoming self-sufficient. That needs to change.