During the Democratic National Convention we heard about the President’s constant fight for working and middle-class Americans and how he’s fought every day to rebuild an economy that’s meant to last – an economy built from the middle class out, not the top down.
In Maine and 30 other states women who give birth as a result of rape must petition the courts to deny parental rights to the biological father, even if he has been convicted of sexual assault. The court may or may not approve the request. (See Maine statute 19-A MRSA §1658).
Thus a woman who chooses or is forced by law to bear a rapist’s child, thinking justice has been done once her attacker has been convicted, now goes on trial and may find herself legally chained to her assailant for at least 18 years because he has rights as a father.
The Republican solution? On the one hand they oppose abortion even in cases of rape, but offer no remedies for the legal or financial hardships their policies would impose on rape victims and the children they would be forced to bear.
On the other hand, if one is to believe Todd Akin, it doesn’t happen anyway since a woman’s body miraculously shuts down to prevent pregnancy due to “legitimate rape.”
August, 2012 -Effective August 1st, thanks to Obamacare, all health insurance providers are required to cover the entire cost of preventive care for women, thus removing a huge burden on household budgets. Last year alone, for example, over half of women put off recommended preventive health care because of the cost. (The Commonwealth Fund , 2011).
Now, having to choose between taking care of themselves and paying the bills are over. 47 million women will now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing, including more than 212,000 in Maine.
And yet these changes are flying below the radar in most of the mainstream media. Even some Human Resources managers and health care professionals are in the dark. As a result many women may not know that they can now access preventive health care without co-pays and without deductibles.
Among the services covered are:
. Well-woman physicals, including Pap smears and mammograms for women over 40, and possibly even colon cancer screenings if their doctor thinks they should have it.
. Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases
. HPV DNA testing for women 30 and older.
. Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling
. FDA-approved contraceptive methods, education and counseling
. Breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling
. HIV screening and counseling
. Sexually transmitted infections counseling
. Details are available at www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines/
This is a huge deal for American women considering that the cost of women not getting preventive health care is an estimated $466 billion per year in treating preventable conditions. (The Commonwealth Fund study, 2009) And prior to these protections now offered by Obamacare, women paid up to 50% more for health care than men (Source: USA Today, July 31, 2012).
The savings for procedures no longer subject to co-pays or deductibles, especially well-woman and baby visits, will also make a big difference in household budgets, savings that will flow back into the economy.
But the Obamacare provisions for women are not about cost alone. They are about saving lives.
Regular mammograms for women over 40 result in 30% fewer breast cancer deaths (ABC News, June 28, 2011, report on Swedish and other studies). Not to mention that Pap smears and HPV testing reduce dramatically the odds of dying from cervical cancer.
Democrats across the country fought long and hard for the Affordable Care Act online, on the phone and door-to-door to save women money and quite literally, their lives.
And of course, Republicans are in a collective swoon over health reform, vowing to repeal the entire ACA and with it, these benefits for women. For example, Sen. Jon Kyle (R – AZ) has famously stated that since he didn’t need maternity care, he saw no reason to require insurance companies to provide it for anyone.
Still, President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is now the Law of the Land, a law that will make all the difference in the world for women to control their own bodies and their own lives. Life is now a lot better for them, their loved ones and for everyone.
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Now that the Affordable Care Act is the Law of the Land, reasonable people figure it’s time to put aside politics and posturing and make sure Mainers get the access to affordable health care that they need and deserve.
And yet, with 121,000 constituents without insurance, Governor LePage and GOP legislators are lying low, putting us behind the eight ball by not taking federal dollars to expand Medicare (aka MaineCare) and by stalling on setting up health insurance exchanges.
The governor’s willfulness is hard to understand. The fact is that the expansion of Medicaid will not cost the state anything at first, with the federal government picking up 100% of the cost from 2014 through 2016, and 90% of the cost thereafter. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, it should actually save the state between $65 million and $118 million over six years.
The governor has also postponed until after the November elections setting up health insurance exchanges to assist consumers with shopping for affordable private health insurance coverage and subsidies to support the purchase of health insurance for families earning less than 400% of the federal poverty level.
Postponing the exchanges likely means the federal government will determine Maine’s exchange plan instead of Mainers, thus ceding state control of the process and the end result to the federal government, an irony that can’t be lost on the governor and his GOP “fear the Fed” allies in the legislature
Republican leaders ignore the fact that ObamaCare will help our economy by putting more money in the pockets of working people and by helping people pay for critical care. The logical way to go forward and implement this law in a common sense manner is to send leaders to Augusta who will make sure hard-working, middle class families and small businesses get the health care they deserve.
Fight His Obstruction of the ACA and Sign the Petition
Yet again Governor LePage has embarrassed the State of Maine.
First we have the infamous “You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo – the IRS.” A week later, when queried by a reporter if the IRS is headed in the direction of “killing a lot of people”, the governor’s response was a blunt “yeah.”
His statements, however, are not a mere case of “misspeak”.
In fact, they fall right in step with GOP obstructionism as the U.S House of Representatives voted yet again – more than 30 times, in fact, at a cost of $50 million to taxpayers – in a futile attempt to repeal the ACA.
And speaking of obstruction, the governor has stated that for now he will not move forward with ACA insurance exchanges whereby individuals can shop for affordable health plans from private companies.
He is also refusing to commit to the expansion of Medicaid putting the future health care of 27,000-plus Mainers at risk, in spite of the fact that the expansion afforded by the ACA won’t cost the state a nickel. In fact, it would save taxpayers between $65 million and $118 million over six years according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
While LePage’s remarks and inaction are offensive and outrageous, they are ultimately a distraction from the fact that millions of middle class Americans and hundreds of thousands of Mainers will benefit from the Affordable Care Act.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation a family of four in Maine earning the median income of $46,000 a year could get a tax credit that would cover nearly 80 percent of the family’s total cost of health care for the year – that’s a tax credit of up to $10,000 to help pay for health care. More than $2 million will be returned to consumers in Maine with an average of $436 per family.
In fact, just about everyone in Maine will benefit from this law — even if you already have health care insurance. Because of the law insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men. You won’t have to worry about what will happen to your insurance, if you change jobs. If you’ve had cancer or even asthma, you can’t be denied care or be charged more due to a pre-existing condition.
The ACA is a common sense solution to a problem that has plagued this country for years, one that will help our economy by putting more money in the pockets of working people and by helping people to pay for critical care.
Help fight the governor’s obstructionist actions by signing this petition now urging him to implement the Affordable Care Act in a timely and responsible manner. Then volunteer in Bath or Topsham to restore a Democratic majority in the Maine House and Senate and put the brakes on our out-of-control Governor.
June 28 – Today the U.S, Supreme Court largely upheld the Federal Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, as constitutional.
“The action by the court today is an incredible victory for the millions of Americans and tens of thousands of families across Maine, who will soon be able to afford to get the care and medication they need.” said Rep. Sharon Treat, D-Hallowell, who is the ranking Democrat on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee. “Now that we have a decision, it is time for people to put aside the politics and posturing. We must roll up our sleeves and make sure Maine people get the access to affordable health care that they need.”
Treat noted because of ObamaCare a family of four in Maine earning the median income of $46,000 a year could get a tax credit that would cover nearly 80 percent of the family’s total cost of health care for the year.
The health reform law has provided critical preventative services in Maine such as well-visits for children, cancer screenings, smoking cessation counseling or immunizations with no out-of-pocket cost to 226,000 Maine people. More than 7,000 young adults in Maine now have health care coverage through their parent’s plan because of the law. Nearly 12,000 older Mainers each saved an average of $1,384 on prescription drugs purchased through Medicare.
“People should never have to go bankrupt because of illness or injury, or die of a treatable disease,” said Rep. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham, a retired family physician, who serves on the Health and Human Services Committee. “Now, we can finally put aside the politics and focus on fixing the health care crisis in our country and our state.”
Sanborn added, “ObamaCare put our nation on the right track by prioritizing prevention, stopping the worst abuses by insurance companies, such as revoking insurance after you get sick or refusing to insure pre-existing conditions or discriminating against women; and making health care affordable for families and businesses.”
State Democrats said the ruling is particularly important for Maine people, who are seeing sharp increases in health care premiums from the rate hike law forced through by state Republican leaders in Maine last year and for those seniors and families that lost health care coverage in the GOP budget cuts.
“ObamaCare has been the last parachute for Maine people and small businesses who have had to pay more for less coverage and for those seniors and families who were thrown off coverage completely,” said Rep. Adam Goode, who was a leading opponent of the budget cuts and the Republican deregulation of the insurance market, which has allowed insurance companies to increase premiums with little or no prior review and based on an individual’s age, where they live, or what kind of job they have.
Goode added, “Families in Maine and across our country scored big over big insurance companies today.”
Click here to view the President’s remarks following announcement of the Supreme Court decision on Thursday on YouTube or view below:
The Sagadahoc County Democratic Committee will not meet this month. Please note this is a change from what was announced at the May meeting. Join us instead to call for our candidates Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings or to march in the Bath Heritage Days parade on the Fourth of July.
MAY, 2012 – In a vote of 75-63, the Republican-held Maine House vote passed a bill that ratchets down Maine’s income tax rate by using one-time money to make ongoing cuts.
The bill and the nearly $500 million in unfunded tax cuts for the wealthy passed by the GOP in the past eighteen months has caused concern among the credit rating agencies. A down grade of Maine’s AA+ credit rating could result in higher interest rates and loss of investor confidence.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from the credit agencies that this bill puts Maine’s credit rating at risk,” said Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, who has opposed the TABOR like measure that threatens funding for schools and towns across the state. “This is nothing short of an unfair and unfunded tax shift onto middle class families who are already paying enough in property taxes.”
Analysis by Maine Revenue Services shows the Republican bill, would give an average tax reduction of only $1 to the bottom 20 percent of income earners. By comparison, the tax cut would give an average reduction of over $21,000 to the wealthiest 1 percent of Maine residents.
The original proposal used 20 percent of one-time surpluses that would typically be put in the state’s reserve funds to make permanent cuts, without paying for them in future years. The surplus only pays for the cuts in the first year. In February, Fitch Ratings Inc., one of the most influential credit rating agencies, changed its outlook for Maine’s creditworthiness from “stable” to “negative,” putting the state on notice that our high AA+ rating is in danger of being downgraded. Fitch warned that their rating “is dependent upon the state’s ability to … meaningfully rebuild reserves depleted during the recession.” Moody’s Investor Services and Standard & Poor’s, the other two major credit rating agencies, downgraded the outlook from “stable” to “negative”.
In an effort to make it more palatable to the credit agencies, Republican lawmakers on the Appropriations committee introduced an amendment that would put more money in the state’s rainy day fund before allowing the ratchet down to go into effect.
Democrats and leading Republicans in the LePage Administration shared concerns that the bill uses one-time money to pay for ongoing cuts, and could impact the state’s bond rating. Democrats have said this is as irresponsible as taking on a car payment after winning a $100 on a scratch ticket.
According to the nonpartisan fiscal office of the Maine Legislature, full implementation of LD 849 as written would cause losses to Maine schools, roads, bridges, and towns totaling over $1.2 billion per biennium.
Democrats say jobs bonds would give needed “economic shot in the arm”
MAY, 2012 – The Maine House and Senate have given final passage to five bond proposals that would make needed investments in Maine’s roads and bridges, colleges and universities, research and development, land conservation, and waste water and drinking water treatment. “A jobs bond will give our economy a much needed shot in the arm,” said Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, the House Democratic leader. “The best way to improve our economy is by making more investments that will help small businesses, job training and public education.”
Maine has lost more than 1,000 jobs since 2011 and was recently rated 50th for personal income growth according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The Legislature approved a total $95.6 million in bond proposals, which Democrats say will create immediate jobs now and set the foundation for economic growth in the future.
The bond proposals included $51 million for transportation improvements, $20 million for research and developments, $11.3 million for higher education, $7.9 million for water and waste water treatment; and $5 million for land conservation.
The proposals will be sent to the voters in November assuming Governor LePage approves them.
“If we don’t make these public investments now, we will be missing an opportunity to create jobs,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, the lead House Democrat on the Appropriations committee. “Public investment will create jobs now and grow good-paying jobs for our future. We have the money to make targeted investments now.” According to the non-partisan fiscal experts from the Legislature’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review, the state has the capacity to make public investments in bonds for voters to approve. Debt service payments from 2013 to 2015 will decline by nearly $30 million, lowering the state’s payments on debt and increasing the capacity to borrow. Maine has a track record of conservative bonding and has historically paid down its debt quickly. The state typically bonds for 10 years, not 20 or 30 as other states do. Debt service is typically between 4-7 percent of the General Fund.
MAY, 2012 – In a vote of 128 to 4, state lawmakers in the Maine House passed a measure that would protect students from bullying in Maine schools. The bill nearly became law in 2011 but was sent back to the Education Committee at the last minute in the face of opposition from the Christian Civic League.
“This is an incredible victory for Maine students,” said Rep. Terry Morrison, who sponsored the bill and has strongly advocated for it after hearing from hundreds of students and parents in his district. “We have sent a strong message to students and parents across Maine: Bullying in our schools is unacceptable and we won’t tolerate it.” The bill, LD 1237, “An Act to Prohibit Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools,” requires the Education commissioner to develop a model policy to address bullying and cyberbullying for use in Maine schools. A copy of the model policy must be sent to each school administrative unit in the State and posted on the publicly accessible portion of the department’s website along with any training and instructional materials related to the policy.
In 2010, there were at least 14 suicides resulting from bullying nationally. The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. 71 percent of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school, and 56 percent of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school. ”I’ve heard from students across the state about their personal stories, including one student who recounted a bullying incident where his peers sicced a dog on him after a school event,” said Morrison. “Leaders in our state must do everything we can to prevent these kinds of tragedies, from the State House to the playground. We can’t pretend this isn’t happening regularly in our schools.”
The bill is expected to be approved in the Senate and must be signed into law by the governor.