Democratic Radio Address of Rep. Jane Pringle (Windham): Provide Access to Life-Saving Care to 70,000 Mainers
Audio link here.
REP. PRINGLE: PROVIDE ACCESS TO LIFE-SAVING CARE TO 70,000 MAINERS
Expansion would create 4,400 jobs, more than a half billion dollars in economic activity
Good morning. I’m Representative Jane Pringle of Windham. Thank you for tuning in.
I’m serving in the Legislature because I want more Mainers to have access to health care.
I was a primary care doctor for 36 years and was also the medical director of a clinic that served many working-class patients. I saw the number of uninsured Mainers growing and how these Mainers were harmed by their lack of coverage. They could not get the care they needed until they were in crisis, and sometimes not until it was too late to save their lives.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If we accept the federal government’s offer, Mainers will be healthier, health care costs will go down for all of us and our economy will benefit. In fact, health care expansion is expected to create 4,400 jobs and generate more than a half billion dollars in economic activity in Maine by 2016.
Over the course of my career, I learned that some illnesses result from genetics and others from habits. But two-thirds of the time, the reasons are unclear; it’s not a result of something we did wrong. Fortunately, medical science has found many treatments to cure and manage these illnesses. The sad thing is that not everyone has access to care that can save lives.
When I first learned that some leaders in Maine were against health care expansion, I thought it was because the Legislature didn’t have enough people with health care backgrounds who saw firsthand the consequences of having to go without care.
I’ve since heard arguments about how people could have health care if they just worked a little harder, got an additional job or were just more motivated.
Imagine coming to me as your doctor and telling me about having chest pain and trouble breathing. And what if I asked you whether you had worked hard enough that day to deserve to have me care for you?
My profession’s code of ethics calls for me to care for you – regardless of who you are and what you may or may not have done to be in your particular situation.
But right now, our state is denying health care coverage to 70,000 Mainers, including 2,700 veterans.
Their numbers include Mainers who struggle with serious and chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer.
Their numbers include Mainers who work hard in jobs that don’t provide health care insurance: custodians who clean up after us, servers who wait on us, cashiers who are on their feet all day and Mainers who try to piece together a living by doing carpentry and odd jobs.
Ten-thousand five-hundred very low-income Mainers lost their coverage at the start of this year because of Maine’s failure to expand health care. They are eligible for neither MaineCare nor insurance on the federal health care exchange.
The others – who are also low-income – do not qualify for subsidies on the exchange even though people with greater earnings do qualify. It’s because we didn’t expand health care as anticipated by the Affordable Health Care Act.
We do have the ability to make a difference for these Mainers – to provide access to life-changing health care that can reduce disability, help more people work and – yes – save lives.
We have the power to do this. We just have to make the right choice.
Thank you for listening. This is Representative Jane Pringle of Windham.