March 28, 2014 – Today the Maine Senate enacted a Republican-sponsored measure to accept federal funds to provide healthcare to 70,000 Mainers, including 3,000 veterans.
“Expanding access to healthcare will strengthen our economy and create jobs and save money, but most importantly, it will save lives,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D) Allagash. “Each one of the 70,000 people waiting to see if we step up and do the right thing has a story to tell, a family they love, dreams and plans for their future, and a life to live. It’s shameful those of us blessed with health insurance by our constituents would then turn around and deny that same right to them. It’s time for Governor LePage to have the back of Mainers and sign this bill.”
According to an evaluation by Harvard and the City University of New York, Maine could save around 157 lives per year by accepting federal funds.
The bill sponsored by Republican Senators Roger Katz of Augusta and Tom Saviello of Wilton would accept the federal funds for expansion for the three years the federal government pays 100% of the cost. Additionally, the compromise proposal creates a managed care plan in an effort to lower program costs.
The proposal would also reduce the waitlist for homecare services for some elderly and disabled Mainers to increase the number of Mainers helped by this initiative and strengthen the Health Care Crimes Unit in the Attorney General’s office to help investigate and prosecute any cases of fraud in the program.
According to analysis from the state’s non-partisan fiscal office, the compromise measure would save $3.4 million in the state’s budget in the first year alone,
“Governor LePage should join the 10 other Republican governors who have said yes to expansion in their states,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell of Portland. “Taking the funds offered to the state is good sense and good economics. It’s time for Maine to join the rest of our New England neighbors and the 27 other states who have said yes to expansion. It’s time for Governor LePage to put politics aside and sign this bill.”
Earlier this week, New Hampshire became the 27th state to expand health care, leaving Maine the only state in New England that has not accepted healthcare expansion.
The bill, LD 1487 “An Act to Provide Fiscal Predictability to the MaineCare Program and Health Security to Maine People,” will now be sent to Governor LePage. He has ten days to act on the measure.