Weekly Democratic Address by Rep Linda Sanborn (Gorham): Governor LePage Should Sign Our Comprehensive Plan to Pay Maine’s Hospitals

Posted on May 18, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Audio link here.

linda sanbornIn the coming days, the state of Maine has an opportunity to pay back the debt owed to our hospitals and contain the rising costs of health care for our people and hospitals.

The Legislature will be sending Governor Paul LePage a bill to pay back Maine’s hospitals and to accept federal health care dollars to cover nearly 70,000 Maine people.

It’s an offer he shouldn’t refuse.

Good morning, I’m Representative Linda Sanborn – a retired family physician from Gorham.

Democrats have put forward a comprehensive plan that not only pays the debt; we make sure we don’t get back here in the future.

Maine’s hospital debt is a symptom of our high health care costs.

As a family physician, I can tell you first hand that when people without insurance get sick, they often end up getting care in the emergency room — where it is most costly. The cost of that care is often picked up by hospitals in the form of “charity care” and then passed on to anyone with private insurance.

By accepting federal health care dollars to cover more Maine families we reduce the charity care and bad debt that costs Maine hospitals $450 million dollars last year alone.

To do one without the other, would leave the job half done.

Our plan pays the debt and helps fix the underlying problem that contributes to high healthcare costs in the first place. We don’t just treat the symptom; we treat the problem.

The federal government has agreed to fully cover the cost for health care tens of thousands of Mainers for the next three years, and gradually lowers its payment to no less than 90 percent of the cost over a decade. There is no cost to the state — in fact we will save money. Maine is projected to save $690 million in the next 10 years if it accepts the federal dollars, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation.

This could change the lives of tens of thousands of Maine people who fear getting sick because they can’t afford to see a doctor when they need it most.

Take Marie from Bangor. She has a part-time job that doesn’t provide health insurance. She also has a serious heart condition that doesn’t allow her to work full time. Without health insurance for her or her family, she is forced to choose between putting gas in her car or paying her medical and utility bills.

Or, Patty Kidder of Sanford and her husband lost their health care coverage, like so many Mainers, when her husband lost his job at Spencer Press during the recession. Or, Tom Ptacek a U.S. Navy Veteran who works part time and has a non-service related problem that the VA doesn’t cover.

Marie, Patty, and Tom were among the many who urged lawmakers to pass this bill.

Unfortunately, they are not alone. This is a reality for tens of thousands of Mainers who are unable to afford health insurance.

Accepting these federal funds to increase health care coverage for more working Mainers is the right thing to. And it makes sense to do it as part of a comprehensive package that repays Maine’s hospital debt. It both addresses the costs of health care for our hospitals and our people.

It’s a good deal. That’s why Republican governors across the country have taken the funds.

Governor LePage has a choice to make: Will he support a plan that pays the hospitals and accepts federal health care dollars to cover more Mainers? Or will he retreat into an ideological corner, putting politics ahead of the people’s health?

People’s lives are on the line. Now is the time to act.

Thank you for listening. I’m Rep. Linda Sanborn.

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