Following controversial comments linking healthcare reform and the Nazi secret police, Maine's Republican Governor will spend a couple of days stumping for a Vermont gubernatorial candidate.
Wednesday evening, Republican State Senator Randy Brock held a fundraising dinner as a financial reporting deadline draws closer. He's running against incumbent Democrat Peter Shumlin.
Among Brock's guests Wednesday: Maine Governor Paul LePage.
"I think that Randy (Brock) is the right guy," said LePage, "he's got government experience and, most importantly business experience."
This weekend, LePage made headlines across the country while blasting national health care reform on his weekly radio program. "We the people have been told there is no choice," he said, "you must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo: the IRS."
Asked Wednesday whether he stands by those comments, he responded, "absolutely."
"We are going to be told by government, 'you do it or we tax you," he said, "I will tell you folks, rationing is only a short distance away." Provisions of the Affordable Care Act do explicitly ban the practice which is common in Canada.
Brock has made his resistance to Shumlin's single-payer effort one of the biggest planks in his platform, and said he wanted to chat with LePage about reform alternatives. "He's achieved some very interesting changes in Maine, that in some cases have reduced costs and improved the access to care," said Brock of LePage, "and I want to hear about those."
But, Brock is cautious not to connect LePage's recent comments with his beliefs, or to say that he favors cuts to Medicaid eligibility, as recently approved in Maine under LePage. "They may not be what we do in Vermont, but it's always interesting and useful to hear what another Governor has done," he said.
Before State Sen. Randy Brock held his political fundraiser in Swanton, in Montpelier, Gov. Peter Shumlin continued to insist that it's too early to begin campaigning. "I think there will be plenty of time for silly season after Labor Day," he said, "I'm really focused on creating jobs, doing the job I was hired to do."
Shumlin has repeatedly defended the state's push for single-payer, but didn't offer much of an opinion on LePage's controversial comments. "I've made my own dumb remarks, so I won't cover for his," he quipped.
Policy groups differ widely on the cost of instituting single-payer in Vermont. According to the state's Legislative Joint Fiscal Office and Department of Financial Regulation, instituting a universal health program would cost between $8.2 and $9.5 billion a year by 2020. The same report indicates the existing system would cost $10 billion by then.
In 2009, Vermont's health care costs amounted to just less than five billion dollars.
With little hard data to back up claims from either side of the political debate, health care reform speculation and mud-slinging is likely to continue through November.
Political fundraising reports are due July 16.
The Brock campaign says the visit by the Governor of Maine raised $10,000. By next week, GOP officials say Brock will likely have raised more than $400,000 in his bid to unseat the incumbent Governor.
Gov. Shumlin said he'll make his figures public when required to do so by law.
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