On Nov. 7, Mainers will be asked to vote on Question 2 — expansion of Medicaid. Notwithstanding all the supposed benefits that would come with its passage, it needs to be defeated.

There is no question that affordable health care is a major problem in Maine, as it is throughout the nation. But utilizing the often repeated but never successful remedy of throwing hundreds of millions of hard-working Mainers’ tax dollars at the problem is not the solution.

We’ve all heard many arguments both pro and con on the issue, but the salient fact is that this was tried in Maine in 2002 and created a huge problem. Not only were the promised outcomes not realized, but the state of Maine ended up owing hospitals $750 million. The only way we worked our way out of that dilemma was to sell off the state’s liquor contract. We do not have that option again, so when the bills come due, the only source of payment will be the Maine taxpayer.

It’s rather strange that in all the arguments favoring passage, this fact is conveniently missing. Unless there is some new, undisclosed formula for success that we’re unaware of, this proposal will put us in a bigger pickle than we were in before. It should also be noted that those who sponsored the signature gathering putting this on the ballot are largely rich out-of-staters who will be happily not paying anything towards the eventual tax bill that passage will entail.

The assertion that we should milk the federal government for most of the funding is a shortsighted one. That money cannot and will not be coming to Maine forever. This year alone, the federal budget deficit is approximately $660 billion — that’s enough to fund Maine’s current budget for about 160 years, to give you some idea of its size — and our national debt is in the neighborhood of $20 trillion. Many economists warn that this is the biggest cloud hanging over our economy. Our policy of spend now and pay later bodes ill futures for our children and grandchildren. The concept of “free” money — a large portion of it borrowed by the way — is a trap that will ensnare far too many Mainers in the habit of expecting a never-ending largesse from Washington. Is it really an “investment” if we use the money to essentially entice people to work less? That’s just what we’ll be doing if we put them in a situation where they will lose the promised benefits if they go over the income thresholds specified in the Medicaid regulations. If we do want to spend money, aren’t there better ways to use it that would instead be an encouragement for them to work?

Ever-increasing health care costs loom large for all of us. They need to be addressed, and they can be if we are willing to do the work together. Medicaid expansion will help some people, but it will create more problems than it will solve. It will give us an ever steeper hill to climb than the one we have now. We can’t expect that throwing a whole pile of money at a problem is a better method than strategically analyzing what we should be doing and then acting accordingly.

There is no simple way to determine the right answer, but there certainly is plenty to show us that Medicaid expansion is the wrong answer. We need to vote no on Question 2.

Dick Bradstreet of Vassalboro, a Republican, represents District 80 in the Maine House of Representatives.

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