Maine’s hospitals came out in support Friday of a November ballot item that would expand the state’s Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands more state residents.

Maine Hospital Association President Jeff Austin says the group is generally wary of using voter referendums to make policy. But now that the question is on the ballot, he says, the association feels obligated to support the goal of helping those without good medical access get care.

And he says it will help the hospitals’ bottom line.

“We deal with over $100 million a year in charity care, providing services to the uninsured. Expansion will not cover everyone and will not fully erase that liability off our members’ books, but it will help tremendously,” Austin says.

Through Medicaid, the state’s MaineCare program mostly covers the poor and those with disabilities. The expansion would raise income limits for qualification.

Gov. Paul LePage and other Republicans oppose the measure, calling it an extension of welfare to able-bodied adults.

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Maine Hospital Association Supports Ballot Measure To Expand Medicaid