Gov. LePage talks work requirements for Medicaid recipients
Maine governor explains why he supports the policies on 'Your World.'
This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 11, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
TRISH REGAN, GUEST HOST: Well, 11 states are seeking work requirements for Medicaid recipients, including Maine.
Is this the right move?
Well, let's ask Maine Governor, Governor Paul LePage.
Governor, good to see you. Welcome.
GOV. PAUL LEPAGE, R-MAINE: Oh, it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for asking to have me on.
And I will tell you, is it a good thing? It is. We have done it with TANF in Maine. And it's been a resounding success.
And what it really does, and what the opponents should look at, is it takes away isolation. It creates new relationships. It improves the quality of life. It helps the labor force. And, most of all, it transitions them to a path to go towards commercial insurance and other forms of employer- sponsored insurance.
So, it is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
REGAN: Let me ask you about sort of more specific situations.
You saw that some people could get an exemption. Blake Burman, our reporter, put a list of examples up. And one of the examples was if you were caring for someone.
So, would that include, say, a single mother who maybe has four little ones all under the age of 5 that she can't get out to a job for, because she would have to find someone to care for her children? Would that be included, for example, in Maine?
LEPAGE: Yes, it would be. And, matter of fact…
REGAN: So, she would be OK?
LEPAGE: That is one of the classes of — yes, that's a class we want to protect.
I strongly believe that a very strong safety net for children, our elderly, our disabled is very, very important. And those with intellectual disabilities also have to be protected. So, I am a firm believer that those people need to be protected.
Those who are able to go to work…
REGAN: So, if you're protecting those that need protecting, that's good. Why is there such an anger about this out there, in your viewpoint?
LEPAGE: I have no idea.
In my view, it used to be, when I was growing up, you worked hard, keep your nose clean, and you're successful, and you would be a success, and everybody would look up to you. The new society we live in, they want you to be dependent on government. And if you're dependent enough on government, you will vote for those who support you. And it really doesn't work that way. And we're proving it in Maine that we are changing, reforming our welfare, and we're gaining appreciation by our populace.
REGAN: Well, the goal should be to make everyone as self-sufficient as they can possibly be, right, Governor? I mean, that's — our government should be helping…
LEPAGE: Financial independence.
REGAN: To make them independent.
LEPAGE: Absolutely. We should be.
REGAN: And if you create a system — sorry. Go ahead. We have got a little bit of a delay that I think is affecting us.
LEPAGE: I believe financial independence, financial independence is so, so important for all families. And all families love it.
And I can recite you stories of actual things that have happened in the state of Maine where, back in 2011, I was very unpopular for trying to put people to work. Now I'm getting letters saying, thank you, thank you, thank you, we're now independent, we're doing well.
I have a nurse who's an R.N. now who is just ecstatic, never thought she could get there on her own. A little nudge, and now she is so proud of herself.
REGAN: Oh, that's great. It has got to make you feel really good, because that's — you know, look if you can enable people and help them to help themselves, then you have really achieved something. And I think that is very commendable, indeed, sir.
In terms of what is happening nationally, there's been a lot of talk of entitlement reform, cutting back on some of the federal welfare programs.
Given what you have seen succeed in Maine, and I know Maine very well — I'm from New Hampshire and have spent a lot of time in your state, sir.
LEPAGE: I know.
REGAN: But Maine is a small place — large territorial-wise, but it has got a small enough population.
LEPAGE: That's right.
REGAN: Do you think what you have done in Maine could succeed on a national level?
LEPAGE: Absolutely believe it can. And I think it will.
I think it's just a matter of transitioning from one culture to another, to a culture that is not too far in the past and it really worked very well. It made us who we are today.
So, it's not reinventing the wheel. We're just going back to the basics, just like education. You got to learn to read, write, and do math. And that's really the basics. And having self-respect for yourself and being financially independent and having the courage to go out and do things on your own is really the American pay.
REGAN: Governor, it is good to see you. I'm all for what you're doing. I think the value of hard work is something that we do need to keep teaching.
Good to see you. Thank you.
LEPAGE: Absolutely. Thank you so much.
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