AUGUSTA —  The effort to expand health care for tens of thousands of low income Mainers and veterans will continue in January.

Legislative leaders voted today to allow two emergency measures to accept federal health care dollars to move forward. The leaders must approve any new bills for the short second session of the legislature, which is typically reserved for emergency or time-sensitive measures.

 “With thousands of Mainers set to lose health care in January, we must act quickly to expand health care,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “The state will lose out on an additional $700,000 per day starting in January if we don’t accept these funds.  Life-saving health care and critical dollars are on the line.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government has pledged to pay 100 percent of the costs of health care for tens of thousands of Mainers for three years.

The Governor vetoed a bipartisan measure earlier this year that would have accepted the funds for three years. As result, nearly 25,000 low-income Mainers, including 15,000 parents, will lose coverage in January and 55,000 other low-income Mainers will not be eligible for health care coverage.

According to a Harvard Study, Maine could prevent around 395 deaths per year by accepting federal funds.

“Making sure that you can go to the doctor, that you can afford the doctor’s visit when you are sick, is not debatable,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “It’s a basic right and one that ensures a healthier and longer life and for folks to keep working to provide for their families.”

Accepting federal funds would create and save 4,100 jobs in Maine, according to the Maine Center on Economic Policy.

Analyses by the Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation show Maine could save $690 million over the next decade from Medicaid expansion. Maine is one of 10 states that will see Medicaid expenditures go down over 10 years.  

States that choose not to expand Medicaid under federal health care reform will leave millions of their residents without health insurance and increase spending on the cost of treating uninsured residents, according to a RAND Corporation study.

Speaker Eves is the sponsor of LR 2357, “An Act to Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People,” and Senator Jackson is the sponsor of LR 2330, “An Act to Enhance the Stability and Predictability of Health Care Costs for Returning Veterans and Others by Addressing the Issues Associated with Hospital Charity Care and Bad Debt.”

Did you like this? Share it: