Sen. Roger Katz’s From the State House column, “Managed care tackles both aspects of MaineCare debate” (Feb. 27), which supported managed care as a way of reducing MaineCare costs, misses two key points about the problem of Medicaid costs in Maine.

First, MaineCare costs are not as bad as they appear. Second, there is a simpler solution.

Why aren’t MaineCare costs so bad? Between 2000 and 2012, national health care costs rose by 96 percent. During that same period, MaineCare costs rose by 90 percent, and Maine’s share of the costs rose by 100 percent. MaineCare costs are rising at about the same rate as the national average.

Over the last 15 years, the state share of MaineCare has held at between 9 percent and 11 percent of the total state budget. While mistakes have been made, the costs have remained within predictable ranges. They should not be characterized as runaway costs as depicted in Katz’s column.

The problem with MaineCare is not runaway costs. The problem is revenue shortfalls.

What is the simpler solution? Katz correctly states that MaineCare’s portion of Maine general fund expenses has gone up, and that has occurred because general fund revenues have not kept up with the demand for funds. The simple act of repealing Gov. Paul LePage’s tax cuts would raise general fund revenues and would make it easier to handle the MaineCare shortfalls.

The managed care solution is not new. It has been tried in both red and blue states with mixed success. Switching to a managed care approach is complicated and will take years before significant savings occur. In the meantime, Maine also should look for simpler solutions to our MaineCare problem, such as repealing the LePage tax cuts.

Peter KonieczkoAugusta

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