DHHS to release Alexander Group report on Medicaid expansion Friday

Mary Mayhew at a news conference

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew. BDN file photo.

A day after being urged by the attorney general to release a much sought-after study on a potential Medicaid expansion in Maine, Gov. Paul LePage announced that the report — and its author — would be made available to the press on Friday.

The report, titled “The Feasibility of Medicaid Expansion in Maine under the Affordable Care Act,” was written by the controversial Alexander Group. Reporters have been seeking the report, which cost $108,000 — $54,000 from state coffers, the rest from federal funds — since its due date on Dec. 1.

It is the first deliverable report resulting from a nearly $1 million contract with the Rhode Island-based consulting firm; Additional reports are forthcoming. The group is led by Gary Alexander, former public welfare chief in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, who in 2010 turned down the position of DHHS commissioner in Maine because it didn’t pay enough. He is now tasked with analyzing Maine’s welfare system and studying what effects would follow a potential Medicaid expansion.

The state received the study on Dec. 16, but has resisted requests for its release from reporters and lawmakers. Gov. Paul LePage has said he needed time to read, process and finalize the report before it could be released.

On Jan. 8, Attorney General Janet Mills sent a letter to LePage and DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, insisting that they release the report immediately, and stating that Maine’s freedom of access law does not make exceptions for executive review.

The report,will be released at a press conference, during which Alexander and Mayhew will share its key findings.

Another report, titled “Maine’s Public Welfare System Blueprint,” was scheduled to be delivered on Dec. 20. It is unknown whether that report has been delivered to the state yet. The Bangor Daily News has filed a request for the document, but has yet to receive it.

Democrats have criticized Alexander for his track record in Pennsylvania, where thousands were cut from welfare rolls under his tenure. They also accused LePage of “cronyism” in hiring the group.

LePage has said the Alexander Group is the best welfare consulting firm in the country, and points to Alexander’s time in Rhode Island, where he won a global Medicaid waiver from the federal government, giving the state unparalleled flexibility in administering its publicly funded health coverage.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.