Gov. Paul LePage likes to talk about personal responsibility, but his proposal to gut MaineCare, the state’s health care safety net, is irresponsible, through and through.

Dumping 65,000 people off government programs might lighten the state budget in the short run, but it will inevitably shift costs onto hospitals, which will provide uncompensated emergency room care, and then onto businesses and individuals, who will have to pay higher health insurance premiums.

These cuts also would result in the state losing federal funds, which match state dollars at a 2-to-1 rate. Under the LePage plan, that money would stop coming into Maine to support doctors, nurses, pharmacies, clinics, group homes and other businesses in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors of our economy.

It is hard to see how the governor could say with a straight face that this plan is an “effort to fix” the state’s high health care costs “once and for all.”

Instead, he appears to be using a crisis to further his pre-cooked political agenda, which starts by demonizing poor people.

It’s a message LePage has been trying to sell since he came to office: Health care costs are too high, he argues, because the people who receive services don’t need them or deserve them.

Fortunately, LePage only represents one branch of government, and the Legislature — and perhaps the judicial branch — will have a say before these cuts can go into effect.

Even the Republican-controlled Legislature did not pass many of these same ideas when they were included in the budget passed in June.

It would seem unlikely that their leaders would want to begin an election year by cutting off funding for programs that help people in need such as the aid senior citizens use to buy prescription drugs.

Lawmakers also may find it difficult to explain why it makes sense to trade higher health insurance premiums for lower state health care costs.

It also will be hard to explain why it makes sense to cut the MaineCare budget by eliminating funding that supports 4,000 assisted living residents, who likely would have to move to much more expensive nursing home beds, which also are part of the MaineCare budget.

LePage says he has asked lawmakers to put aside their differences and work together to solve this crisis. He should take his own advice and start the process over with a more responsible plan.

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