Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) in support of LD 1487: Health Care Coverage a Life or Death Matter

Posted on March 21, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Here is the floor speech of Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) supporting LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the House, what would you do if you have lied awake for countless nights because you feared you would lose your life or your loved ones’ life? You (or your wife) found a lump in their breast a while ago but were afraid to go to the doctor not because of the fear that it was cancer but because your family could not afford to get the care that you needed? What would you do when that mole that you have on your arm is changing and you just hope it is just dry skin and it will go away? You can’t sleep because if you have it checked it might be melanoma and it will likely open the door to bankruptcy. How do you decide? Get care or go broke?

It is a matter of life or death for those people we deny health care coverage to.

Gail McLean is a member of my community. She is the model of a self-made woman. She built her farm and her home with her own two hands. She doesn’t ask for a hand out. What she asks for is to not face complete financial ruin if she is injured or she is diagnosed with a severe illness like cancer. She lives a healthy lifestyle. You won’t find her sitting on her couch drinking and smoking. She and many others like her are working hard to make a living. Are these the people we should deny healthcare?

I have heard the argument that these people could just go to the hospital or local clinic because they can’t turn anyone away. That is true but at what price? Do you honestly think that your insurance premiums won’t go up when hospitals raise their fees to cover the uninsured? And that local health clinic closes their door because they can’t continue to run in the red. Healthcare is not free. The solution is to accept the federal dollars that many other states have. States like Arizona, Michigan and New Hampshire have recognized that in it is the right fiscal thing to do and the right moral thing to do.

The argument that that everyone should go on the exchange is false. Yes, one can purchase an insurance plan for $50 per month with a $2,5000 deductable. When one makes less than $12,000 a year, this is an impossibility. Once again, lose your life or lose your livelihood. I ask, what choice would you make?

It saddens me deeply that this debate has become more about politics than about people. That is not why I am here. I venture to say that that is not why my constituents or yours sent us here. We have a common sense bipartisan compromise before us. A compromise that will save money by providing care in a smart cost effective way. We should embrace this compromise and not ignore the hard working farmers, weavers and fishermen who are just trying to make a living.

My friends, thank you for serving the people of our state. I ask you to have an open mind and really think about the impact the decision to deny health insurance to close to 70,000 fellow Maine neighbors will have. I am here to serve the people of my community and state as are you. I am not here to serve a political master and hold an unbending ideological stance. I admit this vote comes not just from my common sense but from my heart. I will vote to accept to federal dollars to cover more Mainers. I will sleep well tonight knowing that I stood for my neighbors and friends. I ask that you do the same.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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Cathy Breen Announces State Senate District 25 Campaign Run, Earns Early Endorsements

Posted on February 18, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

From a press release:

    FALMOUTH, Maine- Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, former two-time chairwoman of the Falmouth Town Council, recently announced she is running for the State Senate seat currently held by Dick Woodbury. Woodbury has announced he is not seeking re-election. Senate District 25 encompasses the municipalities of Gray, Falmouth, Yarmouth, Cumberland, part of Westbrook, Chebeague Island, and Long Island.

    cathy breen sd 21“It’s an exciting time to enter state government because Maine faces so many challenges and opportunities. I hope to bring my practical experience and passion for public service to Augusta. I’d be honored to represent the citizens of Senate District 25,“ said Breen in a press release.

    “Cathy is a passionate public servant who has experience advocating successfully for her community,” said Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, said in a press release. “Her voice and her values would make her a welcome addition to the Maine Senate.”

    Breen was a strong proponent of controlled growth and conservation of open space on the Falmouth Town Council from 2005-2011. She shepherded the passage of the 2007 Open Space referendum, one of the most successful local land and wildlife habitat conservation efforts in Maine history. In addition, Breen consistently championed low property tax rates.

    Breen promoted improved efficiency in local and regional services during her six years as Falmouth’s representative on the Greater Portland Council of Governments. A strong advocate for public transit including Metro bus service in Falmouth, Breen participated in long-term transportation planning with the Coastal Corridor Coalition composed of Falmouth, Cumberland, Yarmouth, North Yarmouth and Freeport.

    Breen brings traditional Democratic values to the issues, supporting high quality public education, economic growth that respects Maine’s natural resources, open and efficient government, increased access to quality health care, marriage equality, and economic security for Mainers of all income levels. She supports the expansion of Medicaid to all eligible Mainers and the restoration of state revenue sharing with municipalities.

    She serves on the Board of Directors of Spurwink Services, a statewide organization that serves children and adults with behavioral and mental health needs and developmental disabilities.

    Breen has lived in Falmouth since 2000. She received a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a master’s of education from the University of Illinois in Chicago. She is married to attorney Jay S. Geller and has two teen-aged children.

Via Cathy Breen for State Senate Facebook page:

The Cathy Breen for State Senate Campaign was honored to earn the early endorsements of State Representatives Mark Dion, Ann Peoples, Mary Nelson and Anne Graham.

****

    In an unusual move in a contested Democratic primary, four state legislators have endorsed Cathy Breen for State Senate now that her candidacy is official. She filed her petitions last week.

    The legislators represent municipalities in District 25, which encompasses Falmouth, Yarmouth, Cumberland, Gray, Chebeague Island, Long Island and northern Westbrook.

    Breen was a Falmouth Town Councilor for six years, two of them as chair.

    She is opposed by Stephen Woods, who ran as an independent for U.S. Senate in 2012 and withdrew shortly before Election Day. Within a month, he announced as a Democratic candidate for governor but later pulled out when U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud entered the race.

    “I support Cathy Breen’s candidacy for the State Senate because we need someone who is smart, experienced and sensitive to the needs of Maine’s working families,” said Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland. “Cathy will add vision, value and insight to Democratic leadership in our Statehouse.”

    “I enthusiastically endorse Cathy,” said Rep. Mary Nelson, D-Falmouth. “As a Town Councilor, she helped ensure that Falmouth has high-quality public schools and built partnerships between government, the private sector, and community organizations. I know she will listen, carefully evaluate, and work tirelessly to expand economic opportunity and make state government work for her constituents.”

    “I’m endorsing Cathy Breen because of her leadership in support of mass transit which saves energy and cuts transportation costs for riders,” said Rep. Ann Peoples, D-Westbrook, who serves on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. “She advocated for the Metro bus in Falmouth for six years and participated in regional long-term transportation planning along the coast, from Falmouth to Freeport. We need her expertise in the Senate.”

    Rep. Anne Graham, D-North Yarmouth, also strongly supports Breen. “She will work for health care for all and particularly for families who struggle to make ends meet. Cathy will hit the ground running and will work for all the people in her district as she did when she was a Town Councilor.”

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Weekly Democratic Address by Rep. Anne Graham (N Yarmouth): CHALLENGES REQUIRE US TO FIND COMMON GROUND, BUILD ON STRENGTHS

Posted on February 9, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Audio link here.

anne graham

Good morning.

I am Representative Anne Graham, and I serve the people of Gray, North Yarmouth and Pownal in the Maine House. I am also House chair of the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government.
Our communities and local property taxpayers are facing the possibility of an enormous tax increase. Governor Paul LePage’s proposed two-year budget relies on a tax shift that places an undue burden on our towns, cities and their residents and businesses.

Officials in my district tell me that they can’t withstand this strain. I imagine that the $425 million tax shift in the governor’s budget is having similar effects all over our state.

The property taxes increases that will result from the governor’s budget proposal will create unnecessary hardship for many Mainers. I am particularly concerned for our elderly neighbors, many of whom are living on fixed-incomes and have little — if any — cushion in their household budgets.

The tax shift breaks a promise between the state and our local communities. The governor’s budget suspends the longstanding revenue-sharing agreement that communities rely on for their roads, schools and public safety.

The governor’s budget also includes the elimination of key property tax reduction measures and cuts excise tax revenues used for local infrastructure projects.

Another troubling part of the tax shift is the added educational expenses for local districts. These new costs would come at a time when school costs already account for three-quarters of the local budget for many communities.

I fear that our communities and residents are trapped between the loss of important services – including educational programming — and property tax increases they cannot afford.

Democrats are not the only ones worried about the tax shift. I know Republican lawmakers share our concerns. And the conservative Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C., has also made note of the suspension of funding to local government.

It’s clear that our state’s challenges are too big for one party to solve on its own. We must come together if we are to find sensible solutions.

That is why I am one of the lawmakers leading a bipartisan group called the Common Ground Caucus. It’s this kind of cooperation and collaboration that we believe is necessary to get our flagging economy moving and grow our middle class.

I’m also a big believer in positive thinking. While we do face significant challenges, we have many strengths and much to be proud of. Mainers are known for their ingenuity and work ethic. We are home to strong schools, communities and families. Our natural resources, from our mountains and forests to our rocky shores, are the envy of many.

I believe in Maine. We need to build on our strengths to move forward.

I know my colleagues here in Augusta believe in Maine as much as I do. Let us build on that common ground.

This is Representative Anne Graham of North Yarmouth.

Thank you for listening this morning. Have a warm and safe snowy weekend.

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Rep. Anne Graham Submits Bill To Prevent Unreviewed Insurance Rate Hikes

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

(Via press release)


Bill to prevent health insurance rate hikes submitted

Rep. Graham says fix to Republican health insurance overhaul needed now

AUGUSTA – Rep. Anne Graham, D- North Yarmouth, submitted new legislation to prevent insurance companies from increasing rates without a review by the Maine Bureau of Insurance for the upcoming legislative session in January. The bill was introduced to help fix problems resulting from the Republican insurance overhaul that was rushed through the legislature last spring.

“The bill simply prevents insurance companies from excessively increasing rates without oversight,” said Graham, who fought against the radical health insurance overhaul known as LD 1333 (now public law 90). “Maine families and small businesses just can’t afford to put more money in the pockets of big insurance.”

When Anthem recently proposed a 9.7 percent increase in individual rates, the Bureau of Insurance limited it to 5.2 percent after a thorough review. Under the new law put in place by LD 1333, the bureau could no longer review rate increases on small businesses or individuals of up to 10 percent.

Graham’s bill, “An Act to Enhance Affordable, Quality Health Care in Maine,” restores the oversight role of the Maine Bureau of Insurance in the insurance rate review process, preventing excessive price hikes by insurance companies. It also establishes a council to monitor health care accessibility and quality as well as payment reform and expands consumer oversight of the new reinsurance pool. The pool is funded by a new tax on policyholders and is primarily overseen by insurance executives.

Legislative leaders from both parties will decide if the bill will be considered next year during a meeting of the Legislative Council on Oct. 31. The second session of the legislature is typically reserved for top priority measures, such as bills relating to the budget, emergency legislation and legislation carried over from the first session.

“If we want to get serious about lowering health care costs, we must address the cost drivers through payment reform and prevention,” said Graham, who works as a pediatric nurse practitioner. “We must fix the law before it gets any worse.”

LD 1333 allows insurance companies selling individual policies to set rates based on age at up to five times higher than the lowest rate. There are no limits on rate changes depending on where you live or what kind of job you have.

Small businesses in Hancock, Washington, and Aroostook counties are projected to see insurance premiums rise more than 60 or 70 percent. One company in Presque Isle is already expecting to see an increase of 90 percent.

“Our health care laws should be focused on helping consumers, patients, and small businesses not growing the bottom line of big insurance companies,” added Graham.

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Rep. Anne Graham Submits Bill To Prevent Unreviewed Insurance Rate Hikes

Posted on October 27, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |


Bill to prevent health insurance rate hikes submitted
Rep. Graham says fix to Republican health insurance overhaul needed now

AUGUSTA – Rep. Anne Graham, D- North Yarmouth, submitted new legislation to prevent insurance companies from increasing rates without a review by the Maine Bureau of Insurance for the upcoming legislative session in January. The bill was introduced to help fix problems resulting from the Republican insurance overhaul that was rushed through the legislature last spring.

“The bill simply prevents insurance companies from excessively increasing rates without oversight,” said Graham, who fought against the radical health insurance overhaul known as LD 1333 (now public law 90). “Maine families and small businesses just can’t afford to put more money in the pockets of big insurance.”

When Anthem recently proposed a 9.7 percent increase in individual rates, the Bureau of Insurance limited it to 5.2 percent after a thorough review. Under the new law put in place by LD 1333, the bureau could no longer review rate increases on small businesses or individuals of up to 10 percent.

Graham’s bill, “An Act to Enhance Affordable, Quality Health Care in Maine,” restores the oversight role of the Maine Bureau of Insurance in the insurance rate review process, preventing excessive price hikes by insurance companies. It also establishes a council to monitor health care accessibility and quality as well as payment reform and expands consumer oversight of the new reinsurance pool. The pool is funded by a new tax on policyholders and is primarily overseen by insurance executives.

Legislative leaders from both parties will decide if the bill will be considered next year during a meeting of the Legislative Council on Oct. 31. The second session of the legislature is typically reserved for top priority measures, such as bills relating to the budget, emergency legislation and legislation carried over from the first session.

“If we want to get serious about lowering health care costs, we must address the cost drivers through payment reform and prevention,” said Graham, who works as a pediatric nurse practitioner. “We must fix the law before it gets any worse.”

LD 1333 allows insurance companies selling individual policies to set rates based on age at up to five times higher than the lowest rate. There are no limits on rate changes depending on where you live or what kind of job you have.

Small businesses in Hancock, Washington, and Aroostook counties are projected to see insurance premiums rise more than 60 or 70 percent. One company in Presque Isle is already expecting to see an increase of 90 percent.

“Our health care laws should be focused on helping consumers, patients, and small businesses not growing the bottom line of big insurance companies,” added Graham.

 

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