Richard R Farnsworth, Democrat
Office Sought: Representative - District 37
Ohio State University: B.S. in Education, 1962
Boston University: M. Div., 1967
Temple University: Advanced Graduate Studies, 1985
Married with three adult children and four grandchildren.
Why are you running for office? As a legislator you are not able to do anything alone. So, I believe that through working with other legislators I can make a contribution to improving the delivery of healthcare in the state of Maine so that the overall quality of our health is improved and the quality of life for the people of Maine is improved.
State Representative from 1997-98 and currently from 2013-14.
The federal health care law has offered to pay states to expand their Medicaid programs to provide health coverage to low income Mainers. Do you support Medicaid (or MaineCare) expansion?Yes
This is not only an essential component of our attempt to reach nearly 70,000 uninsured individuals in our state but it is also an important economic boost to our state with nearly a million dollars a day coming into Maine. It should also be pointed out that, as a component of the Affordable Care Act, the amount of reimbursement to hospitals from the Federal government for uncompensated care will be reduced. This was in anticipation of the transfer of many of those seeking uncompensated care over to Medicaid. Because that did not happen in Maine, and the fact that the administration removed about 30,000 from the Medicaid/MaineCare rolls, the demand for uncompensated care is and will be increasing which will increase the financial pressure on the hospitals that was only temporarily relieved by the large payment that was made last year.
Not expanding MaineCare has a negative impact on our people, our hospitals and on our economy. That is not good for Maine.
Reform of the state’s public assistance programs has been the focus of debates in the State House and on the campaign trail. Do you believe that the state’s welfare programs are too generous?No
What, if anything, would you change about welfare?It is not so much the matter of how you define both welfare and generosity. The issue has become politicized by the administration based on anecdotes and gossip that has gotten out of hand. The reality is as follows. 1. The payments that are made to individuals and families whether through TANF or general assistance do not place people above the poverty level in most cases. It is merely a subsistence payment. 2. Related to TANF, individuals that qualify are immediately screened for work skills and are either placed in appropriate work placement programs or are placed in training programs that will give them the skills that are needed for work placement. 3. The percentage of incidents of either misuse or fraudulent use of these resources is a fraction of 1%. Those can be dealt with through the fraud investigation unit that the legislature generously funded in 2013 to the tune of $750,000.00. The changes that need to be made are twofold. Where there is genuine fraud, prosecute. It is illegal and should be dealt with as a criminal act. Secondly, we need to change the attitude about public support. Poor people are not inherently bad and do not need to be punished and placed in a social cast because of their financial situation. Welfare should be built on the concept of support while the individual gets themselves back on track. It also needs to provide the tools to help that person get back on track.
Do you support raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour?Yes
By how much?While it would be nice to talk about a level that would meet the definition of a "Living Wage" I think that a minimum of $10.00 per hour would be a good level.
Would you support legalization of marijuana?No
Please explain your position on legalization?This is an issue that needs to be addressed at the Federal level. It is still illegal by Federal law and that supersedes state law whether in Washington, Colorado or Maine. While I agree that we need to look at the management of this product when Federal law changes, if it does. However, until then I believe that it leaves the state in a very vulnerable position should Federal enforcement attitudes change in a more restrictive direction.