Mainers Gather at Huge “Save Healthcare Rally” in Portland

Posted on January 15, 2017. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Approximately 800-1200 Mainers came together at a rally on the steps of Portland City Hall today, one of dozens of similar events across the country, urging Congress not to scrap the Affordable Care Act. Here is full video of the event:

 

Maine Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, who has been a strong advocate for healthcare over the years, gave an impassioned speech:

 

Photos here of the rally.

Prior to the rally, Congresswoman Pingree met with almost a dozen constituents at a round table discussion inside City Hall. She told those gathered that they were among over 1000 families that had written to her recently, urging that she vote to save the Affordable Care Act.

Video here of the round table.

From left to right:

1. Daniel Brouder of Cumberland Foreside
2. Emily Ingwersen of Arundel
3. Lynda Bond
4. Katie MacDonald of Portland
5. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree
6. Alyra Donisvitch
7. Briana Volk of Portland
8. Andrew Volk of Portland
9. Ruth Dean of South Portland
10. Mary Henderson of Topsham

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(ICYMI) LePage: Social Security, Medicare “Welfare, Pure And Simple”- “Oh Hey Wait, I didn’t say THAT!”

Posted on October 22, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

(Originally posted 6/26/14.)

UPDATE: Seems others also thought LePage’s approach to the mess of his own making rather odd (PPH’s Bill Nemitz: “LePage blames messenger for his own message on Social Security”). And rather inevitably, the governor’s gaffe went national (Salon: Gov. Paul LePage on Social Security: “It is welfare, pure and simple”).

Wearing a nice suit in a potato field apparently makes sense to Rep. Alex Willette, even if there is not a single potato farmer in Maine who would ever do this.

Wearing a nice suit in a potato field apparently makes sense to Rep. Alex Willette, even if there is not a single potato farmer in Maine who would ever do this.

So much for the Governor’s newly announced campaign staff additions, including spokesman/ former House Minority Whip Rep. Alex Willette, coming out of the blocks and hitting the ground running- Days 1 and 2 appear to be P.R. fiascos!

An interesting past few days with much back and forth discussion between Maine Governor Paul LePage, Democratic gubernatorial rival Rep. Mike Michaud and now Portland Press Herald- let’s review the “who said what and when”.

First, Paul LePage’s office sent out a press release early yesterday morning, designed to discuss the latest BEA reports of Maine’s personal income growth as dead last when compared to the rest of the New England states and 39th when stacked against those of the entire country, which in part read:

    The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) claims the other five New England states saw higher personal income growth than Maine, but that growth was driven by an increase in welfare benefits, especially in the form of Medicaid expansion. The BEA conceals welfare benefits by calling them “Personal Current Transfer Receipts.”

    These “Transfer Receipts” include: Social Security benefits; Medicare payments; Medicaid; and state unemployment insurance benefits.

    In addition to counting welfare benefits as personal income, the BEA includes another category called “all other personal current transfer receipts.” These are the health insurance premium subsidies paid as tax credits to enrollees of the Obamacare exchanges.

    Paul LePage

      “It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple,” said Governor LePage.

      “Liberals from the White House all the way down to Democratic leadership in Augusta believe that redistribution of wealth—taking money from hard-working taxpayers and giving it to a growing number of welfare recipients—is personal income. It’s not. It’s just more welfare expansion. Democrats can obfuscate the numbers any way they want. The fact is that we have created thousands of jobs, more Mainers are working, and their income is going up.”

Democratic rival Mike Michaud quickly responded:

    “LePage’s comments are an insult to Maine seniors who have worked long and hard to earn their Social Security and Medicare benefits,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic nominee for governor. “These two programs have helped to provide a secure retirement to thousands upon thousands of hardworking men and women who have earned them one paycheck at a time. They deserve much better than to have their monthly Social Security checks called ‘welfare handouts.’ The governor should be embarrassed that he ever suggested such a thing.”

The campaign started an online petition (Tell LePage: Social Security & Medicare are NOT welfare handouts!) where thousands signed up in less than 24 hours.

Then the Portland Press Herald had the audacity to report what the governor said– verbatum:

    Gov. Paul LePage has long cast a wide net for programs that he says fit the definition of welfare. On Wednesday, in a media release written as an alternative take on new personal-income data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, he lumped Social Security and Medicare into that definition.

    The federal data released Tuesday put Maine’s personal-income growth at 0.5 percent in the first three months of 2014, which ranked 39th nationally, last in New England and well below the national rate of 0.8 percent.

    LePage, however, said in the media release that Maine’s net personal earnings increased by 0.8 percent, in line with other New England states and slightly higher than the national rate of net personal earnings, 0.7 percent.

    The governor arrived at his number by excluding what the federal bureau calls “personal current transfer receipts” and dividends, interest and rental income.

In other words, LePage changed the rules- his team inexplicably fudged the numbers to reflect a conclusion that falsely makes the administration look better than reality. What his office with their pretzel mathematics failed to do was crunch the other 49 states’ numbers similarly for a more standardized, accurate comparison with the national figures and conclusions. And the reason they can NOT do that is quite simple.

The other New England states have expanded Medicaid, seen much better economic growth than Maine- the sole holdout in New England- and because of his own refusal to allow for coverage of 70,000 additional Mainers and creation of tens of thousands of jobs across the state, Paul LePage thinks that the numbers as provided by BEA are unfair.

It would be as if 50 horses were lined up at Scarborough Downs, but one arbitrarily was given a 30 second head start rest of the field. That’s what LePage’s “new math” accomplished- and he very rightfully got called out for it by Michaud.

But back to Portland Press Herald’s involvement, with a reminder that just last year the governor in a fighter jet simulator photo op in Berwick “joked” about wanting to blow up the PPH and BDN buildings. This morning, LePage issued another press release, taking PPH to task… for reporting exactly what the governor said in his earlier release:

DSC_0032

    Governor Paul R. LePage issued the following statement today with regard to erroneous interpretations from the Portland Press Herald of his Medicaid expansion-related comments:

    “I don’t think Social Security or Medicare is welfare. Only the most liberal interpretation of my statements about Medicaid expansion would twist my words to include Social Security and Medicare. Welfare expansion is not a reliable, nor is it a sustainable income source for personal growth income earnings.

    While my opponents are fighting for welfare expansion, my Administration is committed to preserve funding and resources for Maine’s elderly. Some seniors may be forced out of their homes because of financial troubles within Maine’s nursing homes and it is why I have pushed so hard to adequately fund those facilities.”

Side note: The administration may claim to have been trying to help those elderly Mainers in struggling nursing homes, but the reality is a far different matter.

Michaud and his staff once again responded:

    Gov. Paul LePage earned the ire of seniors and the people who support them this week when he inappropriately referred to Social Security and Medicare as “welfare” in a press release intended to obscure his poor performance in improving Maine’s economy.

    In just 24 hours, thousands of people have signed an online petition telling LePage that Social Security and Medicare are earned, one paycheck at a time through a lifetime of work.

    But now, as the governor tries to back away from his latest embarrassment, questions remain about exactly what LePage thinks “welfare” is.

    In the past he has called municipal revenue sharing welfare. In addition, in his press release he referred to all “Personal Current Transfer Receipts” as welfare, which would include — in addition to Social Security and Medicare – many other programs, such as:

    Mike Michaud at June 2014 press conference discusses plans as governor to create inspector general office, charged with investigating DHHS issues. Also pictured: State Senator Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec)

    Mike Michaud at June 2014 press conference discusses plans as governor to create inspector general office, charged with investigating DHHS issues. Also pictured: State Senator Colleen Lachowicz (D-Kennebec)

  • Veterans benefits (including pensions and life insurance)
  • Compensation for victims of September 11
  • Compensation for survivors of public safety officers
  • Compensation for victims of crime
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Railroad retirements
  • Black lung benefits
  • Military insurance benefits
  • Fellowships for outstanding science students
  • Assistance to cadets a maritime academies
  • Pell Grants
  • Job Corps
  • Payment of anti-terrorism judgments
  • LePage, in his own words: “It doesn’t matter what liberals call these payments, it is welfare, pure and simple.”

    “The governor’s disdain for Maine families is clear in his attitudes, in his policies and in his words. According to his press release, not only are Social Security and Medicare now welfare but veterans’ benefits and compensation for 9/11 victims are too. Where does he draw the line?” said Lizzy Reinholt, a spokesperson for U.S. Congressman Mike Michaud’s gubernatorial campaign. “The governor would like to hide his own dismal performance by pointing his finger at other people, blaming them for Maine’s sluggish economy. His actions and his words are holding Maine back.”

    “Social Security is not welfare. Medicare is not welfare. Veterans benefits are not welfare,” Reinholt said. “Like many of the programs that the governor holds in disdain, they are part of the fabric that helps to hold our communities together.”

Governor Paul LePage flies an F-35 Lightning II simulator at a Pratt & Whitney employee appreciation event in North Berwick. (image via BDN)

Governor Paul LePage flies an F-35 Lightning II simulator at a Pratt & Whitney employee appreciation event in North Berwick. (image via BDN)

And most recently, the Portland Press Herald has once again reported the exact words of the Governor.

    Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement Thursday that he doesn’t think Social Security or Medicare are welfare and he criticized the Portland Press Herald for making an “erroneous interpretation” of a prior press release from his office.

    “Only the most liberal interpretation of my statements about Medicaid expansion would twist my words to include Social Security and Medicare,” he said in Thursday’s statement. “Welfare expansion is not a reliable, nor is it a sustainable income source for personal growth income earnings.”

    The statement differs significantly from a press release LePage’s office issued Wednesday in response to a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report that found Maine’s personal income growth was below the national average and last in New England.

To be updated as needed…

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Medicaid expansion has been disastrous for other states

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

Audio link here; originally released by the Governor’s office for 5/21/14.

Medicaid expansion has been disastrous for other states

Democrats and their allies in the media pushed hard for Maine to expand Medicaid and add 100,000 people to our welfare system. They claimed expanding Medicaid would be free because the federal government would pay for it. They were wrong.

lepage sots angry selfHello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

I vetoed Medicaid expansion five times this session because we knew that expanding Medicaid would not be free. It would cost Maine taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade.

But don’t take my word for it. Just look at states that are now being crushed by ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion.

Arkansas expanded Medicaid the same way Maine Democrats wanted to. Already this year, Arkansas is $8 million over budget.

In California, 1.4 million more people signed up for Medicaid than they anticipated. California taxpayers are now facing $1.2 billion in unexpected costs.

Rhode Island expanded Medicaid in a way that was similar to what Democrats originally proposed for Maine. They originally estimated that 28,000 people would sign up by September. By the end of March, over 64,000 had already signed up. Rhode Island now has a $52 million budget shortfall.

Democrats claimed that expanding Medicaid in Maine would be free. But it wasn’t free after Maine first expanded Medicaid in 2002. It resulted in welfare debt of $750 million to Maine’s hospitals, and it squeezed out funding for our elderly, our disabled and our nursing homes.

Arkansas, California and Rhode Island have learned the hard way that expanding welfare under ObamaCare is far from free. The federal government will not pay for their busted budgets. Local taxpayers have to foot the bill for these financial disasters.

The rush to sign up for Medicaid isn’t the only problem some states are grappling with. Massachusetts chose to set up its own website to enroll people for insurance under ObamaCare. That website is a catastrophic failure, and it has to be scrapped.

The boondoggle will cost Massachusetts an estimated $100 million. Local taxpayers are left holding the bag for that one.

Mayhew fields  questions from Maine media regarding the $900k+ Alexander Report, while Gary Alexander stands silently by. He did not say one word to Maine press, who were instructed by Mayhew that she would be the only one speaking to them about the report.

Mayhew fields questions from Maine media regarding the $900k+ Alexander Report, while Gary Alexander stands silently by. He did not say one word to Maine press, who were instructed by Mayhew that she would be the only one speaking to them about the report.

As we said over and over again, there is no free lunch. These states are facing enormous costs because of Medicaid expansion and ObamaCare. We did not want Maine to get stuck in that position. That’s why we hired a consultant to advise us on how best to manage all of our welfare programs.

The consultant just released the bulk of his report, detailing what we are doing right and what we can do to improve our welfare programs. Before they could even read it, Democrats jumped up to attack the report. They just won’t face facts.

Take time to read it before you go on the attack. We must take control of our welfare program. The federal government’s one-size-fits-all approach has been disastrous in many states.

We must be able to adjust Maine’s welfare program to fits the needs of Maine people and the Maine budget.

You will hear much more about our efforts to reform welfare in the coming months. The Democrats won’t like it, but I know you will.

Thank you for listening.

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Democratic Radio Address of Rep. Jane Pringle (Windham): Provide Access to Life-Saving Care to 70,000 Mainers

Posted on March 22, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

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

jane pringleOur state has the opportunity to expand the security of health care coverage to 70,000 Mainers. It’s an opportunity that we can’t afford to pass up.

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.

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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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Rep. Katherine Cassidy (D-Lubec) on LD 1487: Washington County all about community, helping during tragedies

Posted on March 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Video and prepared remarks from 3/18/14. Rep. Cassidy expanded upon her statement to reflect that Mrs. Salleroli would be finding out Wednesday the results of biopsies and testing done upon a newly discovered tumor on her liver.

Mr. Speaker, women and men of the House,

I want to tell you about Washington County, where I live, and specifically about two of the hardest working people I know in Washington County.

There’s a place in Eastport, a very funky café and bar called the Rose Garden.

During the summer and fall in 2012, and also in 2010 and 2008, during the campaign season, I would end up at the Rose Garden in late afternoon, after I finished knocking on doors in Eastport. I would ask for a root beer float, and relax a bit before heading home. That’s how I got to know Alan and Linda Salleroli, who own the Rose Garden. One or the other of them would fix my root beer float and ask about the work I wanted to do in Augusta, the issues that I cared most about. Just on Sunday, both Al and Linda worked the bar, and served up a proper St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

You always find them together these days, never apart.

That’s what spouses do, when one of them is diagnosed with cancer.

They go forward together, trying to appear as if everything is business as usual. Al and Linda put on a good game face – still always cheerful and mindful of their patrons and their community.

But things are different now at the Rose Garden. There’s still live music on weekends, and chili or rib cook-offs Sunday afternoons in winter, and open mic and poetry gatherings at other times. And the Rose Garden is still a place where everybody knows your name. And everybody also knows how Linda got cancer two years ago, and had one eye removed, and then things were good again because we all thought that Linda had beaten cancer.

The Sallerolis have owned the Rose Garden for 10 years, and Al Salleroli even took a turn as president of the Eastport Chamber of Commerce. But although they both still work seven days a week, they can’t afford health insurance.

As a cancer survivor, Linda continued to get check-ups, but after January 1, in order to receive charity care at the Lafayette Family CancerCare facility in Brewer, she first had to show that she had been denied MaineCare. And there is up to a 45-day wait to get a MaineCare eligibility determination. So while she was waiting 45 days to be told by the state of Maine that he did not qualify for MaineCare, just in order to be eligible for charity care, she missed an appointment with a cancer specialist, because she couldn’t afford it.

Three weeks ago, Linda learned the cancer has returned, and has spread. She is angry, and Alan is especially angry. Any one of us would be angry, too, if we got cancer, and if we didn’t have the health insurance that we get in our roles as state legislators.

I know how Alan and Linda feel. Just three years ago, my husband and I were living without health insurance, because we also were self-employed and we couldn’t afford it. Frank got cancer, and he died.

We were lucky, though, because Frank was a veteran, and he could turn to the VA, and Togus, for cancer treatment, and then hospice care.

But the Sallerolis don’t have any such option to turn to, except for the Maine Legislature, to ask for help with Linda’s cancer. So here I am, this morning, asking you, my legislative colleagues, on behalf of Alan and Linda Salleroli, to cast your vote to expand health care for Mainers such as Linda. Just like you, she’s a hard worker, and she’s a taxpayer and, like some of you, a small business owner and a community leader. And she deserves better.

Mr. Speaker, I don’t rise often to speak on the floor, but when I do, I stand up for Washington County, and I do so with pride because that’s where I live. Six of us in this Chamber represent Washington County, in fact, with a seventh serving in the Senate.

We can tell you about entire small towns where everybody knows your name, and how our four weekly newspapers frequently print photos of five generations of a family. In Washington County, we know that after the Eastern Maine basketball tournament every spring, caravans of cars honking horns and fire engines with sirens will arrive back in town at midnight. We love our local beauty pageants, our high school graduations, our Fourth of July parades, our countless quilt raffles as fundraisers, our festivals for blueberries and salmon and pirates. We support our American Legions that always serve a hunters’ breakfast, and churches that put on bean suppers no matter the time of year. We turn out by the hundreds for benefit suppers when tragedy visits an individual or family, whether we know them or not.

Washington County is all about community. And my personal definition of community is “the way we get by”. But I cannot tell you how my friends Al and Linda Salleroli are going to get by now, if we don’t have enough votes to expand health care across Maine. They’ve already put a portion of Linda’s cancer costs on their daughter’s credit card.

You have read all the numbers about Washington County. We have demographic differences, and we have health disparities with the rest of Maine. You know about our poverty, our unemployment, because you’ve seen the numbers in the Kids Count annual report. So, it hurts when others tell our Washington County people to “get a job”, as a way to get health care.

Nobody can dare tell Alan and Linda Salleroli to work any harder than they do.

What the individuals and families of Washington County, like the Sallerolis, share with all of you, is that we are all Mainers. And just as much as the rest of you, we also believe in that great motto for Maine – “the way life should be.”

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Complete Video Record of Maine House Debates LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”

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

In chronological order, here are clips from this week’s House floor debate on LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”. The bill passed the chamber, but as in the Senate last week, narrowly failed to garner a veto proof majority.

Whenever possible, the full text of the prepared remarks has been linked to each clip; for others, either direct quotes or summaries as provided by House Democratic legislative aides online has been shared.

———

HHS Chair Rep. Dick Farnsworth (D-Portland) Presents LD 1487

Rep. Corey Wilson (R-Augusta) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea) opposing LD 1487 (pt 1)

Rep. Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth) supporting LD 1487

Asst. Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) in support of LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

    Rep. McCabe thanks lawmakers for this bipartisan effort. “This bipartisan health care bill can make a different to 70,000 Mainers — Our friends, our family, our neighbors.”

    Rep. Jeff McCabe on economic benefits of health care expansion: “Why not these jobs? Why not now? ”

Rep. Paul McGowan (D-York) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Paul McGowan on health problems he had: “I had that health experience with the security of health insurance. Everybody in this chamber has the security of health insurance.”

    Rep. Paul McGowan: “Can you imagine living in a society where if your house caught on fire and you called the fire department, and they said I’m sorry, you don’t qualify?”

Rep. Helen Rankin (D-Hiram) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Helen Rankin: “Our veterans who have sacrificed everything. Do we really turn away from them? I think not.”

    Rep. Rankin: “Who made us God to decide about the lives of these people who are so desperate? … I think it’s time for us to pay it forward.”

Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487 (pt 1)

Rep. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Matt Pouliot: “This bill is a valiant attempt to find a middle ground, incorporating many principles that are important to me. … I will be supporting this motion.”

Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) supporting LD 1487, pt 1

Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) supporting LD 1487, pt 2

    Rep. Craig Hickman reading from a constituent letter: “Are we really going to let these people down and say tough luck you’re on your own?… We are a better nation than that. We are a more compassionate people than that.”

House Majority Leader Seth Berry (D-Bowdoinham) in support of LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

    Rep. Seth Berry: “Health care expansion makes good business sense. There’s also the human cost of denying health care to 70,000 Mainers.”

    Rep. Berry on his younger brother: “He is one of the most hardworking Mainers you’ll ever meet. He is one of the Mainers who fall into the coverage gap caused by our failure to expand health care.”

Rep. Bobbi Beavers (D-S Berwick) in support of LD 1487

    Rep. Roberta Beavers : “In York County alone, about 82 hundred more people will gain access to health care. An additional $43 million will be spent each year on health care services by 2016, stimulating about $59 million in additional economic activity and 513 new jobs in my county.”

Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487

Rep. Anne Graham (D- N Yarmouth) supporting LD 1487 (full remarks here)

    “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.”

Rep. Dennis Keschl (R-Belgrade) opposing LD 1487

Rep. Dr. Jane Pringle (D-Windham) supporting LD 1487

    Rep. Jane Pringle, a retired doctor on why she’s in the Legislature: “I have watched the number of patients without health care grow. I have seen too many patients who could not get the health care they need until they were in crisis.”

    Rep. Pringle: “Imagine coming to me as your doctor with chest pain. And I say, ‘Have you worked hard enough today for me to give you health care?'”

    Rep. Pringle on the lack of belief in a system that will increase access, lower costs for all and save lives: “We have the power to do this. We just have to make this choice.”

Rep. Paulette Beaudoin (D-Biddeford) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Richard Malaby (R-Hancock) opposing LD 1487

Rep. Josh Plante (D-Berwick) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Dr. Ann Dorney (D-Norridgewock) supporting LD 1487

    Another patient of Rep. Dorney lost health coverage, ran out of insulin and ended up in the ICU with dangerously high blood sugars. The hospital gave her some insulin when she was well enough to leave.

Rep. Bernard Ayotte (R-Caswell) opposing LD 1487

Rep. Sheryl Briggs (D-Mexico) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Lisa Villa (D-Harrison) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Brian Jones (D-Freedom) supporting LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

    Rep. Brian Jones on health care needs in the community: “The collection plate in church and the donation jar in the store have demonstrated they cannot completely fulfill this purpose. Nor can directives to get a better job.”

Rep. Dr. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Gay Grant (D-Gardiner) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Steve Moriarty (D-Portland) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Tom Longstaff (D-Waterville) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Nate Libby (D-Lewiston) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Katherine Cassidy (D-Lubec) supporting LD 1487 (full prepared remarks HERE)

    Rep. Katherine Cassidy about constituent with cancer: “They already put a portion of cancer treatment on their daughter’s credit card.”

Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) supporting LD 1487

Rep. James Campbell (U-Newfield) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) opposing LD 1487 (pt 2)

Questions posed through the Speaker during LD 1487 floor debate

Rep. Dick Campbell (R-Orrington) opposing LD 1487

Rep. Karen Kusiak (D-Fairfield) supporting LD 1487

Rep. Drew Gattine (D-Westbrook) supporting LD 1487

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Rep. Brian Jones (D-Freedom) on LD 1487 Opposition: “I got mine; good luck getting yours”

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

Here is video of are Rep. Jones’ floor speech and transcribed remarks as prepared for delivery.

Mr. Speaker, men and women of the House,

I rise to speak to the decisions that we must make and the actions that we must take, in light of the conflict between what we earnestly believe the right thing to do is and what we realistically can accomplish, between the ideal and the real constraints under which we work.

Is the legislation before us perfect? Of course not. Is it the best we can do for our citizens on this day, given its imperfections and our differences? Yes. Is there a viable alternative plan before us today? No.

I rise to speak of the values of the citizens I represent, and these values are visible and their benefits are tangible for all in our community to see.

Mr. Speaker, the citizens that I represent volunteer as firefighters and emergency medical personnel; we volunteer to teach the illiterate to read; we keep jumper cables, a chain, and a bucket of sand in our pickups to help those who have gone off the road in the winter. And we help the so-called worthy and the unworthy equally.

We collect donations and provide heating fuel for our neighbors, because we believe that no one should be cold in the winter. We have a vibrant volunteer food pantry, and we have community gardens because we believe no one should go hungry. And, we place a jar on the counter of our local general store to collect donations for a family who’s experienced misfortune or, most relevantly to this discussion, illness.

That every one of our fellow human beings should be healed when sick is a belief I know, Mr. Speaker, we all share. It’s essential to our nature of empathy and our understanding of compassion. But the collection plate in church and the donation jar in the general store have demonstrated they cannot completely fulfill this purpose. Nor have the directives to “work harder” or “get a better job” met this need.

We have heard today that we cannot afford, we do not have the money, to provide this remedy for our fellow men and women. Mr. Speaker, we cannot serve two masters: we will hate one and love the other; or we will be devoted to one and despise the other. Mr. Speaker, either we serve the master of compassion or we serve the master of money. We choose today whom we will serve, the master of benevolence or the master of selfishness, and today eternity is witness to our actions.

Mr. Speaker, the worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy and a government lacking a truly human purpose. We have drunk from the fountainhead of personal enrichment and the philosophy of “I got mine; good luck getting yours.”

Mr. Speaker, heaven have mercy on my soul if, on my travels from Jerusalem to Jericho, I pass by on the other side of the road when I see a man, beaten and naked in the ditch.

Mr. Speaker, the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all of our policies, even if the instrument before us is imperfect.

Mr. Speaker, I ask each member of this body to consider his or her conscience and faith when we vote.

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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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Asst Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) in support of LD 1487: “Good deal for Maine, one that we can’t afford to give up”

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

Video and remarks as prepared for delivery.

Mr. Speaker, men and women of the House, I rise in support of the pending motion.

I want to recognize all the bipartisan effort that went into this measure. Thank you Mr. Speaker for your tireless work to provide 70,000 Mainers with the security of health care coverage. Thank you to the lawmakers, especially our Republican colleagues across the aisle, who see the value of providing access to a family doctor for more Maine people.

This bipartisan health care bill can make all the difference to 70,000 Mainers – our friends, family and neighbors. Mainers who work hard in jobs without health coverage, veterans who have more than earned such coverage through their service to our country.

Right now, the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation is downstairs. Health care expansion will help people with M-S. It will serve Mainers with one of the most expensive chronic diseases, a disease that often forces them to stop working.

This bill is good for them and tens of thousands of other Mainers.

And it’s good for economy. It will result in more than $1 million of economic activity per day. It would create 4,400 jobs.

This is good news when Maine’s job creation is sorely lagging. This is good news particularly for rural Maine, which needs the economy really needs the boost.

In Somerset County, where I live, 3,590 Maine people would gain access to health care. This bill would create more than 200 new jobs in a county where unemployment is higher than the state as a whole. This bill would lead to $19 million in health care spending that would stimulate another $23 million in additional economic activity.

Aroostook County would see 4,615 people gain coverage, 280 news jobs and $25 million in annual health care spending that would lead to another $31 million more in economic activity.

And here in Kennebec County, we would see some more impressive results. 6,000 more Maine people with health care, 367 new jobs and $32 million in health care spending that could spur $43 million more in additional economic activity.

This is a good deal for Maine, one that we can’t afford to pass up.

I urge you to consider how much our state, your districts and constituents would gain from the federal government’s offer.

I know that this decision weighs especially heavily on several of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

I urge you to vote in support of the pending motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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