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  • Yaw Akuffo-Anoff

Lawmakers Look to Establish Affordable Public Health Care Option for All Mainers

A recent survey revealed that a majority of Mainers believe they are one medical emergency or illness away from financial disaster. The growing cost of healthcare in Maine causes more than one in three residents to skip or delay going to the doctor when sick.

Now Maine lawmakers are looking to change that statistic by making healthcare more affordable. LD 1856: Resolve to Study the Establishment of a MaineCare Public Health Plan, would create a study commission to establish a public option health care plan in Maine.

Under the proposed legislation, the Office of Affordable Health Care and the Department of Health and Human Services would study the options for establishing a MaineCare public health plan. Once their findings are complete, they would submit a report to the Joint Standing Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services with its recommendations, including any suggested legislation.

A public option would function as a health insurance coverage program run by the state and made available alongside existing private health insurance plans. Maine currently has a MaineCare program, which according to the state website, provides free and low-cost health insurance to Mainers who meet certain requirements, based on household composition and income. This newly proposed measure would establish a program available to all Mainers.

As things stand, healthcare affordability remains a critical issue for working Mainers and their families. The Maine Beacon recently reported that more than four out of ten Mainers have medical debt in their household, and nearly all of them who’ve accrued that debt within the past two years still have it.

LD 1856 would initiate the process of developing a more comprehensive and affordable public health care option for working families. We look forward to seeing the Maine Legislature adopt and pass this bill.

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