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It is no secret that healthcare costs in Maine are skyrocketing, and saddling working families with unmanageable financial burdens. Nearly half of all Mainers find it difficult to afford healthcare, according to a recent survey.


One of the culprits of these difficult healthcare costs is prescription drugs. Many drug companies still practice price gouging. Here in the United States, we pay more than many other countries for our prescription drugs, and a major reason for this is that our biggest drug purchaser is only just beginning to negotiate drug prices. 


The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 granted Medicare, the largest national purchaser of prescription drugs, the ability to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on the prices of certain medications. The negotiations have already begun and will take effect by 2026. These medications include:


  • Eliquis

  • Jardiance

  • Xarelto

  • Januvia

  • Farxiga

  • Entresto

  • Enbrel

  • Imbruvica

  • Stelara

  • Fiasp; Fiasp FlexTouch; Fiasp PenFill; NovoLog; NovoLog FlexPen; NovoLog PenFill


LD 1829 would prevent state-regulated health insurers from paying more for these select prescription drugs than what Medicare has negotiated. The price for each of the above medications will be set at the maximum rate that a drug can cost under Medicare, which is determined by the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. To ensure that the money these health plans and providers save is put to good use, the bill also requires that those savings must be used to reduce costs to patients. 


Should LD 1829 pass, all Mainers will be able to benefit from Medicare’s price negotiation, ensuring these commonly used and expensive medications will be accessible and affordable for everyone. It will reduce the risk of Mainers having to ration or skip these medications, leading to healthier lives, and decrease the financial burden placed on our families by price-gouging prescription drug companies. We strongly encourage the Legislature to pass this bill.

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Every person gets sick or injured at some point in their lives. When these events are unexpected, they can saddle people with medical debt that’s difficult to manage.


Nearly half of Mainers carry some amount of medical debt, and over two-thirds say they are just one major medical bill away from financial ruin. Many people have to make difficult decisions between taking care of themselves and addressing other necessary expenses like their mortgage, car payments, or even groceries.


Exacerbating the problem are debt collection practices. If a patient cannot pay off their full bill within a brief period, hospitals will sell medical debt to collections agencies, often at a lower price than the total owed. Nearly one in three Mainers were contacted by a collection agency within the past two years, with 83% saying it was because of a hospital bill. Many of those contacted aren’t given a chance to discuss a payment plan with the hospital before then. 


The Maine Legislature is taking steps to address the imposed burden of medical debt with bills like LD 2115. Introduced by Senator Mike Tipping, the bill would bar hospitals from selling medical debt to collection agencies without first offering to sell it to the consumer at the same discounted rate. 


By not immediately selling to collection agencies, patients would have the chance to pay off that debt faster and with fewer hurdles. No more being hounded by collection agencies before there is even a fair chance to pay off the bill. And no more risk of damaged credit, which hurts Mainers’ chances of buying a home or a car. 


No one should have to worry about going bankrupt to get the care they need. That’s why we call on the Legislature to pass LD 2115.

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New survey data released today confirms that Mainers want more transparent hospital prices and would support policies that ban hospitals from charging facility fees (unexpected expenses tacked onto a patient’s hospital bill, often after a visit to a medical practice or clinic), according to the latest findings by Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC). The survey also corroborates data from 2022 that outlined Mainers’ concerns about health care affordability and their negative experiences with medical debt. Overall, many say it is a challenge to afford the health care they need.


Key findings from the Perceptions of Health Care Affordability and Hospital Facility Fees in Maine survey include:


  • Half of all surveyed Mainers find it difficult to afford health care; many responded it is very difficult to afford health care.

  • Four out of ten Mainers have taken on medical debt within the past five years; three out of four who took on medical debt in the past five years still have that debt.

  • Two out of three Mainers say they would have difficulty paying a $500 medical expense.

  • Hospital-owned facilities are, by far, the most common source of medical debt, with six out of ten saying the largest share of their debt came from a hospital facility.

  • Almost eight out of ten Mainers would support a law that banned hospitals from charging facility fees outside of a hospital – a clear majority strongly support that type of ban.

  • Nine out of ten would support laws that require medical providers to disclose their facility fees to patients before they receive treatment.


The full survey can be viewed here.


“While actions have been taken to improve access to health coverage in Maine, too many Mainers continue to struggle with the cost of health care and with medical debt. We all deserve to take care of our health without financial stress or worry,” said Ann Woloson, Executive Director of Consumers for Affordable Health Care. “Mainers have made it clear: establishing transparent hospital prices is a responsible path forward to address high hospital costs. The survey results, coupled with the Task Force to Evaluate the Impact of Facility Fees on Patients  recommendations, show there is a need – and resounding support for – both transparent prices and additional steps to address rising health care costs and medical debt in Maine.”


The survey data comes on the heels of a report released earlier this month from the legislative task force. The top recommendations include support for improved consumer protections, including facility fees transparency, and limits on facility fees in hospital bills for telehealth services, outpatient evaluations, and office visits.


This polling research was supported by United States of Care, a nonpartisan health care advocacy group, and West Health.


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