Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick) presents LD 1578 Expanding Federally Funded Health Care in HHS public hearing (Video; text)
Yesterday Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D- N Berwick) presented his bill, LD 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People” before the Health and Human Services Committee in a packed public hearing. Here is a clip of his address to committee members and released text of his prepared remarks.
Testimony in Support of LD 1578, “An Act To Increase Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People”
Good morning, Senator Craven, Rep. Farnsworth and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services. It’s a great privilege to be before you today to present my bill to accept federal health care dollars to cover 70,000 Maine people, including nearly 3,000 veterans.
LD 1578 would provide life-saving health care to tens of thousands of Mainers. It directs the state to accept 100 percent federal funding to cover more Maine families under the Affordable Care Act.
This is an unprecedented bargain for the state. It’s a good deal. Not only would it provide critical care to Mainers in need, it would also save money in the state’s general fund and generate hundreds of millions in economic activity. The federal government would literally pick up the tab for state programs, freeing up state dollars for other key programs.
Now more than ever, it is critical for Maine to accept these federal dollars. On Jan. 1 — only a few short weeks ago — nearly 25,000 Mainers, including nearly 15,000 working parents whose children depend on them to stay healthy to go to work each day, are losing their health care. They lost this care for one simple reason: because the state turned down this bargain from the federal government.
Like so many of you, I hear from constituents on different issues. Earlier this week, I had a heart breaking call from a woman, Amy, whose family had lost their health care in January. Her husband is a type-1 diabetic and they simply couldn’t afford to fill his insulin prescription. They went to the pharmacy at Shaws and it was $203.00 per bottle. She was scared. Her husband needs his medicine, but they don’t have an extra $400 to $600 a month to pay for his critical insulin. She works and so does her husband. She doesn’t want a hand out, but her employer doesn’t provide health insurance and she can’t afford to buy private insurance.
Amy is not alone. There are hundreds of people just like her, whose lives have changed because of decisions we make in this building every day. You will hear from many of them today. We are talking about life-saving health care. I urge you to really listen.
Over the past few months, I’ve worked to address some of the concerns I’ve heard from lawmakers. This bill is tri-partisan –it has four Republican co-sponsors, one independent and five Democrats.
It includes good-faith effort to bring all parties together:
● A sunset provision after 3 years, prior to the decline in federal funding to 90 percent.
● An opt-out provision if the federal government breaks its commitment before the 3 year period
● It requires a co-pay from individuals utilizing the program.
● Creates a MaineCare Stabilization Fund to pool savings accrued from accepting the federal dollars
This is a true compromise.
I am ready and willing to consider any idea that will allow this life-saving care for Maine families to move forward. It’s too important. Too much is at stake. We can do this if we turn down the rhetoric and the politics and look at the facts:
Maine could prevent around 395 deaths per year by accepting federal funds. (Harvard Study) and we will lose out on millions of dollars if we don’t (RAND Study). We have an opportunity to save our state more than $600 million dollars by accepting these funds (Kaiser).
These are facts from non-partisan; independent research institutes.
With each day that passes, Maine loses out on an additional $700,000 per day, $500 per minute totaling 250 million a year.
Maine will miss out on as many as 4,400 jobs and over half a billion dollars in annual economic activity by 2016 (MECEP).
Many of the people who could get health care if we accept these funds are Mainers who work at low-paying jobs in our grocery stores or construction sites or home care providers that don’t get health care benefits through their jobs. There are even veterans whose ailments aren’t covered through the VA.
We can truly put aside partisanship to accept federal dollars to increase access to healthcare for working people in our state. Republican and Democratic governors across the country have done it.
In closing, I would like to echo the words of the Maine Hospital Association in a recent OpEd in the KJ, “Mainers routinely support initiatives to fund highway and clean water projects with federal match rates far below 90 percent, and we see no reason to forgo this level of funding just because it’s health care. If this were an opportunity for federal dollars for a ship at Bath Iron Works or a defense contract or for highways and bridges, we would be jumping at the opportunity and celebrating.”
This is an opportunity that we should not pass up. Increasing access to healthcare for more Maine people is the right moral and economic thing to do.
Thank you for listening. I’d be glad to take questions at this time.