Augusta, MAINE – In case you missed it, the Republican candidates for Governor emerged from hiding yesterday to fully embrace President Trump and Governor LePage’s misguided push to strip low-income Maine people of their health care. Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett issued the following statement in response:

“By embracing President Trump and Governor LePage’s backward attempt to snatch health care from Mainers, the Republican candidates have demonstrated that they’re more interested in winning a far-right primary election than they are in helping low-income Mainers get jobs.

“Maine Democrats are going to do what Governor LePage and Republicans haven’t: create a robust, prosperous economy, build out our workforce, and transition people into jobs by helping them – not by kicking them off the health care they need. That’s how we will build a successful, forward-looking state.”

Independent nonpartisan organizations have panned President Trump and Governor LePage’s plan to institute work requirements as completely wrongheaded. In a report last year, the Kaiser Foundation observed that, “health coverage through Medicaid is an important precursor to and support for work. Many of the jobs held by people with low incomes involve walking, standing, lifting and carrying objects, repetitive motions and other physical labor. Without health insurance, individuals may forgo needed services, and their health may deteriorate to a point that interferes with their ability to work.”

AARP, in a post on its website, highlights that same issue and points to a study by a research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation which asserts that instituting work requirements could drive up government costs as people who are denied coverage go to emergency rooms for health care needs.

Mary Mayhew: “I am so pleased with where the Trump administration is. I’ve had the opportunity – the privilege – to work with the Trump administration over this last year on multiple fronts, including these Medicaid requests for greater flexibility at the state level to establish these work requirements. So I’ve been really pleased with the engagement with the Trump White House; with members of the federal members of Health and Human Services. They understand that Washington needs to follow Maine’s lead and they truly have looked to Maine – have spoken with me.”

Shawn Moody: “Our limited welfare dollars should be prioritized for our most vulnerable Mainers. Maine has led the way in common sense welfare reform under Governor LePage and I am pleased to see the federal government following Maine’s lead. Requiring able-bodied individuals to work to receive benefits will result in self-sufficiency, while protecting our most vulnerable populations. We must continue pushing for common sense welfare reform in Maine.”

Ken Fredette: “Maine continues to be a national leader on welfare reform. I’m proud to have worked as the leader of the House Republican caucus, side by side with Governor LePage for the past 7 years to root out fraud and abuse and truly reform welfare in Maine so it helps only the most vulnerable among us.”