Lisa Miller’s Feb. 4 column, “MaineCare waiting lists for extra services, not medical care,” exemplifies the attitude and reasoning that has left Maine with more than 3,000 severely disabled people on waiting lists for needed services. For years, liberal Democrats in the Legislature have chased federal matching dollars to give free MaineCare to non-disabled adults of working age while coming up with excuses to justify neglecting the people for whom Medicaid was designed: poor children and disabled people who can’t work.

Bradley LaPointe, 19, needs the non-medical services that Miller dismisses. LaPointe is severely autistic, unable to communicate and with only a vague understanding of his surroundings. He is on a waiting list for home care services so that his parents can work. Without these services, LaPointe’s parents have two options: One could either quit working, or they could admit their son into a nursing home. LaPointe’s family is one of several across Maine who struggle with this same challenge.

State government has a limited amount of money, and it must be prioritized. I believe that Medicaid funds should be used to help disabled people such as LaPointe who cannot help themselves. Miller believes that it should be used to help adults, many of whom are able to provide for themselves. I came up with a solution to fund and clear the Medicaid waiting lists, but Democrats in the Legislature killed it last session because they said we didn’t have the money. Instead, they tried (unsuccessfully) to expand Medicaid to 70,000 non-disabled people under Obamacare.

Why would they do such a thing? As one expansion proponent noted in a letter to the editor, “70,000 is a lot of votes.”

Clearing the waiting lists for people such as LaPointe would cost $49 million per year. Expanding MaineCare to non-disabled adults would cost $75 million to $125 million per year. We need to refocus MaineCare on the people it was originally intended to help.

Rep. Deborah SandersonR-Chelsea