AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage is ready to announce his plan to return nearly half a billion dollars owed to the state’s hospitals.

The Republican governor has scheduled a news conference Tuesday at the University of New England’s under construction dental school in Portland.

The governor says Maine hospitals are owed $484 million. If the state pays $186 million, that triggers a $298 million federal match.

The governor said in a statement that the federal match rate decreases the longer the bills go unpaid, so paying them is critical to the state economy.

The unpaid bills represent MaineCare payments that date to 2009.

The hospital payment plan is part of larger jobs plan LePage says will spur investment in the state economy.

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