AUGUSTA — Gov. LePage said today he is not just asking the Legislature to cover shortfalls in the Department of Health and Human Services, he is calling or a structural overhaul of Medicaid.

“This is an effort to fix it once and for all,” LePage said during a news conference in his Cabinet room.

Citing a projected $120 million shortfall in the current fiscal year and projected $101 million shortfall in the next fiscal year, LePage released a proposal today that calls for eliminating Medicaid eligibility for more than 60,000 people.

Maine now has 361,315 residents receiving health coverage through the program, called MaineCare here. LePage said cutting off coverage for healthy low-income adults, some parents and others would reverse a decade of expansion and bring Maine closer to the national average of eligibility.

Democrats and advocates for Maine’s poor called the proposal extreme and potentially devastating to children, the elderly, the disabled and poor adults.

They also said they have yet to see a complete analysis of the shortfall, which has been discussed for months.

“We’ve been asking for the numbers for quite some time and we don’t have them yet,” said Margaret Rotundo, D-Lewiston, a member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

Rotundo said LePage’s proposed cuts are too deep to achieve at the expense of just one program or agency.

“We’re looking for the numbers and we think (any necessary cuts) should be done in a comprehensive way,” she said.

The appropriations committee will hold hearings on the budget proposal on Dec. 14 and 15. The LePage administration wants the Legislature to act by the end of January so the cuts could take effect in April. Delaying action will make the shortfalls larger, LePage said.

2:10 p.m.

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage is proposing broad and deep cuts in Medicaid and the Department of Human Services to cover a projected shortfall of $120 million this fiscal year and $101 million next year.

Cutting Medicaid, or MaineCare, eligibility for childless adults and reducing eligibility for others would save $6.2 million this year and $60 million in fiscal year 2013, for example, according to the proposal.

Limiting prescription coverage through MaineCare, including a two-year limit for Suboxone treatment for drug addicts, halting payments for smoking cessation products, reducing hospital payments and limiting crisis services for other mental illness would would save $3 million this year and $78 million next year, according to the administration.

LePage is presenting his plan to Legislative leaders now and is scheduled to hold a news conference at 2:15 p.m.

Cllick here to see the proposal.

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