AUGUSTA — A group that backed a successful ballot question initiative to expand Medicaid in Maine in 2017 will rally Tuesday before Gov. Paul LePage’s final State of the State address.

The rally is a protest of LePage’s efforts to block the expansion of the state and federally funded health care program that could offer coverage to up to 70,000 more Mainers.

LePage has five times successfully vetoed an expansion of the program under the federal Affordable Care Act, saying it will bankrupt the state. But nearly 60 percent of Maine voters approved the expansion at the ballot box in 2017.

Since the ballot question was passed, LePage has insisted that the Legislature fund expansion costs without tapping into the state’s rainy day fund or increasing taxes, which would effectively require lawmakers to cut spending elsewhere.

Those expected to speak at the rally, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. outside the State House in Augusta, include individuals who say they and their families have been hurt by LePage’s effort to block expansion and control its funding.

“I work at a paper mill, and thousands of Mainers like me who work in mills have been laid off (in) the past few years, and their families have been left without any health insurance,” said Linda Deane of Livermore, the sister of a laid-off mill worker, in a prepared statement. “Many are now working low-wage jobs that don’t provide benefits. The toll this has taken on hundreds of families is enormous.”

LePage is expected to address a joint session of the Legislature at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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