(UPDATED) Maine Democrats Urge Support for Medicaid Expansion Bill LD 1066
UPDATE: Now that the Senate Republicans stood with Governor LePage and today refused to override last week’s veto, LD 1066, “An Act To Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding”, is going to be taken up by the HHS Committee as early as tomorrow.
(Originally posted April 2, 2013)
On March 20th, Democrats held a press conference introducing LD 1066, “An Act To Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding”. If Maine accepts the federal health care dollars to cover nearly 70,000 people, the state will save $690 million over the next decade, according to the non-partisan Kaiser Foundation and the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will fully pay for the coverage for three years. Federal funding will gradually reduce to 90 percent after the first three years. States may opt-out of the program at any time.
Here is a clip of sponsor Rep. Dr. Linda Sanborn, a retired family physician, at the press conference:
- “Accepting these federal dollars to get health care to more Maine people is the right prescription for Maine. Maine has an opportunity to cover more people and save millions of dollars currently spent to treat uninsured people in emergency rooms.”
She was joined by Maine Medical Association President Dr. Dieter Kreckel and bill co-sponsors Rep. Jane Pringle (Windham), a retired primary care doctor and medical clinic director (VIDEO), Rep. Anne Graham (Yarmouth), a pediatric nurse practitioner, Rep. Ann Dorney (Norridgewock), a family doctor, and Sen. Geoff Gratwick (Bangor):
“Building a strong economy and a strong middle class means making sure people have the health care they need, when they need it, at an affordable cost. Accepting federal funds to increase health coverage will strengthen Maine’s economy and provide health coverage to thousands of hard-working Mainers.”
Today, Speaker of the House Mark Eves gave strong backing to the measure that would authorize Maine to accept federal health care dollars to cover nearly 70,000 Maine families. More than 50 people came to testify in support of the bill. The Health and Human Services Committee will vote on the measure in the coming weeks.
Here is his prepared testimony delivered during the public hearing before the Health and Human Services Committee.
Good afternoon, Senator Craven, Rep. Farnsworth and distinguished members of the Health and Human Services Committee.
I am Rep. Mark Eves of North Berwick — and I have the honor of serving as the Speaker of the Maine House.
Thank you for allotting me the time to testify on this very critical issue to our state.
I am here to testify in support of LD 1066, “An Act to Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding.” I’d like to thank the bill sponsors, especially Rep. and Dr. Linda Sanborn of Gorham, for bringing this very important measure forward. Thank you to the co-sponsors Sen. Saviello and Sen. Woodbury for speaking today.
LD 1066 will take the federal government up on its offer to fully pay for health care for tens of thousands of more Maine people, while saving the state $690 million over the course of a decade.
It’s a bargain and it’s a good deal.
It will mean health and economic security for so many more Mainers.
It will bring down the cost of health care for all Maine people and our hospitals.
The arguments to support this measure are sound and strong. The doctors, the small business owners, the working families, the veterans, the hospitals, the economists, and the experts that are here today will make that case for you.
But today, as you listen to these individuals, I urge you to think about why you came to Augusta. Why you ran for office. I’ve talked with many of you. I know you, like me, came here to serve the people in your community.
You came here to make a difference in the lives of our community members.
You can change the lives of 70,000 people in our state by giving their family access to a family doctor: A working father who can’t afford to pay for his heart medicine; an older Mainer struggling to pay for medicine or food; a veteran who can’t afford their insulin.
You can not only witness history, you can participate in it.
As a member of this committee, I heard regularly about the importance of health coverage and the difference that it made in people’s lives. I remember clearly the working father with a heart condition who spoke eloquently to our committee about the fact that MaineCare had saved his life and allowed him to have access to the medication he needed to stay healthy in order to work and care for his children. I remember the formerly uninsured young woman in her 20’s who had been unable to manage her diabetes. She was in and out of the hospital on a regular basis until she received access to MaineCare and was able to receive the preventive care and medical supplies that she needed to control her diabetes and manage her health.
You have the power to give 70,000 more Maine people the security of knowing that if they are sick, they can go to the doctor. As a health care provider, as a veteran member of the Health and Human Services Committee, and as a parent, I know what it means to have that security and I’ve seen and heard first hand what it means when you don’t.
I know it’s tempting to allow this to become a partisan issue. But I urge you not to. I urge you to put partisanship and ideology aside. Look at the numbers, do the math, listen to the doctors, look at the facts, and listen to the people of Maine who are behind this bill. We have an opportunity to do what’s right for the people of our state and change the lives of so many. Let’s seize this opportunity together. Thank you.