AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Supporters of the Question 2 Medicaid expansion referendum say the Legislature's fiscal office has shown that expanding Medicaid to tens of thousands more people would save money in other DHHS programs.

NEWS CENTER on Thursday reported the cost estimates from the Legislature's Office of Fiscal and Priam Review (OFPR). Those estimates show the state share of expanding Medicaid would be an additional $27 million per year, and rise to $70 million by the third year.

Medicaid expansion debate about health and money

OFPR said Friday that it did calculate projected savings in other DHHS programs as a result of 70,000 to 80,000 people being added to Medicaid. Those projected saving are $13.5 million in the first year, and $27 million in succeeding years. The Question 2 campaign said those savings would reduce the net increase to Maine taxpayers to $13.6 million in the first year, $31 million in year 2 and $43 million in the third year.

Brent Littlefield, the spokesman for expansion opponents, said Friday that OFPR numbers can't be relied on. He claimed the OFPR is a partisan officer because Democrats hold a majority in the Legislature, and said it made inaccurate cost estimates of the last Medicaid expansion, in 2002.

Maine voters will decide the Question 2 referendum Tuesday. Opponents claim the state cannot afford the cost of expansion, but supporters say it would bring hundreds of millions of new federal dollars into Maine's health care system, and provide needed coverage to thousands of people.

OFPR projects expansion will save the general fund $13.5m in the first year and $27m in following years.

OFPR estimates the first year (net) cost at about $13.6 million. Second year: $31 million. Third year: $43 million.