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Between sky-high premiums, and out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and treatments, too many Mainers are forced to go without the care they need.

Lawmakers are looking to address the many barriers to care that Mainers are facing. One of the these barriers are facility fees. Facility fees are charges patients may be forced to pay – in addition to their bill for treatment and medical services – just for being inside a medical facility.

Oftentimes, these fees get attached to any form of care, and can place an undue financial burden on patients. At worst, they can be predatory, costing much more than the appointment or procedure themselves.

LD 1795 would address facility fees directly. It would limit them for any medical services provided on a hospital campus, in an emergency room or outside emergency facility. It would ban them entirely for any outpatient evaluation or diagnostic or imagining service procedures. Hospitals will also be required to submit an annual report on facility fees charged during the year, and must make that publically accessible. This will ensure transparency and accountability from hospitals on just how much they’re charging patients, and for what.

When dealing with a health crisis, the first concern should be getting the treatment needed to get well, not be the cost of treatment itself. This bill is an important step in addressing the out of control health care costs plaguing working families here in Maine. We encourage the Legislature to pass this bill to help ease that burden!

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For the past few years, state legislators in Augusta have passed a variety of bills to address Maine's housing crisis. A few examples include one piece of legislation to study zoning laws and land use restrictions, and another to help cities and towns cover the cost of building affordable housing units to reduce homelessness.

Now lawmakers are looking to address another barrier to finding affordable housing – tenant application fees. Representative Kessler of South Portland recently introduced LD 691: An Act to Reduce Barriers to Housing by Prohibiting Tenant Application Fees.

The proposed legislation, “prohibits a landlord from requiring a person to pay a fee in order to submit an application to enter into an agreement to rent a residential dwelling unit.”

As we’ve previously reported, 1 in 5 Maine renters pay more than half their income toward housing costs, and, for every family living in an affordable, federally subsidized unit, nearly three families are on a waiting list.

Navigating the housing market is hard enough during these times. The last thing Maine families need right now is additional barriers to finding the shelter they need. We applaud Rep. Kessler for introducing this legislation and we look forward to seeing its passage in the near future.

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Absentee voting remains one of the easiest and most effective ways for Mainers to participate in the democratic process. This voting method allows all eligible voters to cast a ballot outside a polling place once they request a ballot, which is delivered to them via postal mail. During the 2022 midterm election, at least 250,000 Mainers voted absentee.

Now lawmakers are looking to strengthen this democratic jewel with a new legislative bill that would allow all registered voters to sign up to automatically receive an absentee ballot in the mail each election. Senator Mattie Daughtry of Cumberland recently introduced LD1690: An Act Regarding Ongoing Absentee Voting and Tracking of Absentee Ballots.

This bill would:

  • Make all Maine voters eligible to receive their absentee ballot in the mail each election automatically without having to request one each time they vote.

  • Allow all Maine voters who sign up to receive an absentee ballot each election the abililty to track their ballot electronically once it is sent out to them.

  • Require the Secretary of State to notify all voters who sign up for this program when their ballot has been sent, when their clerk receives their ballot, if their clerk finds a problem with their ballot, if the voter hasn’t returned their ballot in a timely fashion, and when their ballot is cast.

This measure would bolster absentee voting across the state, and encourage civic engagement during election season as advocates continue to push for a permanent list in Maine. We look forward to seeing the passage of LD1690 in the near future.

Visit the state of Maine’s website to learn more about absentee voting.

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