To the Editor:
Health care saves lives, that’s obvious.
It shouldn’t be a luxury to have health care, or a privilege reserved for well to do people, but more than 106,000 Maine people still don’t have health insurance.
A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that in Maine, about 180 people between the ages of 55 and 64 who died in the years from 2014 to 2017 would have lived if they had had better access to health care.
That is simply unacceptable.
Everyone gets sick at some point in their lives. Everyone needs to go to a doctor. As Governor, my top priority is to ensure that every Maine person can see a doctor, get preventive care and afford critical prescription medications, be healthy, work and care for their families.
While Washington politicians have attacked the critical health care services that we rely on, Maine has expanded Medicaid, known as MaineCare, and more than 42,000 people have signed up for health insurance under the MaineCare expansion so far this year.
One of those people is Kathy Stewart, a Waterville area hairdresser. She has emphysema and she has struggled to afford oxygen until now, when she finally got MaineCare coverage this year.
I don’t think any person should live with the constant fear of becoming ill or maybe even being unable to breathe because they can’t afford to go to a doctor, can’t afford to fill a prescription, or can’t afford to get life-saving care. Well like Kathy, now they don’t have to.
In this legislative session, in addition Medicaid expansion, I also signed LD 1, “An Act To Protect Health Care Coverage for Maine Families.”
This legislation codified critical Affordable Care Act protections, including guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions, a ban on lifetime and annual caps on coverage and allowing young adults up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance, as well as coverage for essential health services such as ambulance services, prescription drugs, and pediatric care.
Our Administration is sponsoring a statewide campaign right now called CoverME to help Maine people including self-employed people and small businesses understand all of their health insurance options and to sign up for the coverage they need that’s best for them.
This campaign is funded by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant, not with state dollars.
Maine is pursuing a state-based marketplace also to put the state – not the federal government – in the driver’s seat when it comes to health care, but you should know that private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is available now to all Maine people.
The enrollment period for Affordable Care Act plans is open now and goes until Dec. 15. Almost 75 percent of Maine enrollees can find a plan for $75 a month or less. You can sign up for MaineCare insurance if you’re eligible at any time of the year of course.
If you need health insurance, or need to find a less expensive plan, please visit www.CoverME.gov to learn about coverage options for you and to get enrolled in an affordable and an effective health care plan.
Gov. Janet Mills