Maine Residents Rally for Medicaid Expansion

(NECN: Marnie MacLean) - Mainers rallied at the State House in Augusta Thursday to urge lawmakers to support Medicaid expansion.

They hung their personal stories on a clothes line, a symbol of what they call "their lives on the line" as they struggle without health insurance.

Medicaid expansion would help about 70,000 more Mainers get health insurance. The government would pick up the full cost for three years and then 90 percent after that.

Four other New England states have already signed up for Medicaid expansion, and New Hampshire is close to a deal.

Supporters say it's a good program and will help cover those who currently fall through the cracks in the health care system. But Maine's governor and some Republican lawmakers say Maine can't afford it. 

According to Senate Republican Leader Mike Thibodeau, "Unless people want to raise taxes significantly in the state of Maine and drive more business away from our state this is a plan we can't afford."

Two moderate Republican lawmakers have drafted a compromise bill that they are hoping will gain more Republican support. The legislature is expected to debate that bill next week.

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