AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The LePage administration is asking the federal government to pick up 100 percent of Maine's costs of expanding Medicaid for 10 years, if Maine is to agree to the expansion through the national health insurance law.

"We need a longer-term commitment and greater support from the federal government in order to move in the direction of expanding Medicaid," Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew said Wednesday, two days after making the request to her federal counterpart, DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Mayhew's letter was sent as Gov. Paul LePage considers whether to expand Medicaid — known in the state as MaineCare — under the Affordable Care Act. LePage has resisted expansion in the past out of concern that the state may not be able to meet its long-term obligations from expansion. Mayhew said the state faces a $270 million hole in its two-year budget as a result of increased costs in Medicaid and the latest reduction to the federal reimbursement rate for the program that helps pay for health care for low-income people.

But LePage's opposition has softened in recent days; he said he would consider it if the majority Democrats act quickly on his plan to pay a nearly $500 million hospital debt.

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