House Majority Leader Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) in support of LD 1487: Expansion is “Economic Shot in Arm” for Maine

Posted on March 19, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Video from 3/18/14 and remarks as prepared for delivery on LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”. The bill passed the House by a 07-49 vote.

Mr. Speaker; men and women of the House. I rise in favor of the pending motion.

As House chair of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future, I would like to draw your attention to the economic benefits of this measure. Health care expansion fits perfectly with the major focus of our workforce panel: high-demand, high-wage jobs, the jobs of tomorrow.

If Maine accepts the federal health care dollars, we say “yes” to 4,400 jobs. Most of these are in the health care sector. They are good-paying jobs where workers earn enough to more than cover the basics, jobs where they earn enough to spend on local businesses and boost other sectors of our economy.

Maine is lagging behind the nation in job creation. We’re at the back of the pack.
This bill is that economic shot in the arm. If we accept the federal government’s offer, we would inject money into our economy. My own Sagadahoc County would see an additional $8 million annually, which in turn would stimulate another $3 million in additional economic activity.

Health care expansion makes good business sense.

There’s also a great human cost of denying health care to 70,000 Mainers. This is not an abstract issue, it’s one that’s close to home. For all of us. If we fail, we will see the results vividly and in some cases, tragically.

My younger brother is a logger and a farmer. He is as hardworking a Mainer as you’ll meet. He is also one of the Mainers who fall into the coverage gap created by the failure to expand health care. I worry about him. An accident could be both physically and financially disastrous.

One time, he was alone doing some tree work and the branch he was on broke. He came crashing down fifteen feet and landed on his chainsaw. It wasn’t running, but its chain was well sharpened and his forearm was nicely opened up. He bled profusely, and needed stitches. Frankly, it was a miracle he didn’t die. If my brother is injured again, whether while baling hay or working with his oxen or felling trees, I want to know he has health care.

If he doesn’t feel right and develops a condition, I also don’t want him to put it off until it becomes worse — more serious, more expensive, more dangerous to him and to our health care system. I want him to have access to preventive care, so he is healthier and we don’t all pay more for him later in our insurance rates.

Please join me in supporting this motion.

Let’s give Maine this shot in the arm. And Mr. Speaker, men and women of the House, let’s do it together.

I urge you to follow my light. Thank you.

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