A bill to expand access to essential reproductive and other health care services, sponsored by our own Rep. Jay McCreight (D-Harpswell) is now law.

LD 319 provides uninsured and underinsured low-income Mainers access to important preventative services such as cancer treatment and screenings, birth control and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. The new law also empowers women to make decisions about starting a family and prevents unintended pregnancy. The services can be access through a doctor’s office or any other qualified health care provider.

“This measure is about economic security for Maine families,” said Rep. Jay McCreight, D-Harpswell, the sponsor of the legislation. “This new law allows us to help the growth of financially secure, physically healthy and self-sufficient families while also saving taxpayer dollars by offering Mainers a real pathway to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Under the measure, the federal government will pay $9 for each dollar of state funds that goes toward the effort. The new law will provide publicly funded preventative health care to adults up to 209 percent of the federal poverty level, approximately $23,000 for a household of one.

One-third of all American women are living very close to the poverty line, earning less than $47,000 per year for a family of four. Thousands of Maine women and the children who depend on them are one unexpected expense away from financial collapse.

The first-year savings to Maine are conservatively estimated at $100,000 and, by the third year, the state would save nearly $2 million.

Thirty other states have opted in to the Medicaid family planning option proposed in LD 319, many of them for more than a decade. Every state that has assessed the program has seen a net savings in Medicaid costs.

The law does not cover abortion services. Federal law prohibits these funds being used for abortion services.

The Legislature passed a similar measure in 2014, but it did not survive a veto from the governor.

McCreight’s measure, which the Legislature passed on June 30, is among the 51 bills that became law on Sunday without the governor’s signature.

McCreight, a member of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee and Marine Resources Committee, is serving her first in the Maine House and represents Harpswell, West Bath and part of Brunswick.

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