PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Our political analysts Ethan Strimling and Phil Harriman stopped in this morning to talk about two important topics: the House hospital bill vote and Governor Paul LePage's plan to drop the income tax if re-elected.
There's been some progress on the bill that would help repay hundreds of millions of dollars the state owes to hospitals.
On a largely party-line vote, the Maine House has given initial approval to the bill that would settle the debt and at the same time expand Medicaid by accepting more federal dollars.
Republicans and the governor want the two issues dealt with separately.
The House vote was 87 to 57, with one Democrat siding with the minority.
It came after a divisive and partisan battle over medicaid expansion, and specifically, over whether that issue should be tied to the bill to repay the state's share of the 484 million dollar hospital debt.
Democrats say providing medicaid to nearly 70 thousand new Mainers will prevent them from going to the emergency room for treatment, which they say becomes more expensive in the long run. Republicans worry the expansion under the Affordable Care Act will come at a cost to taxpayers, and they want more time to find out.
"Senate" Democrats also rejected Republican efforts to separate the two proposals.
The bill faces more votes before being sent to Governor LePage-- who has promised to veto it, even though he has made repaying the hospitals a top priority this session.