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Groups: Maine Lawmakers Took Health Care Seriously This Session

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Thursday, April 28, 2022   

With the conclusion of this year's legislative session, advocates say Maine lawmakers have taken key steps toward reducing the cost of health care.

Surveys have shown four in five Maine adults are worried about affording the care they may need in the future.

Ann Woloson, executive director of Consumers for Affordable Healthcare, said this year the Legislature has taken voters' concerns seriously. She argued measures in the supplemental budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor last week will make a big difference, such as increasing Medicaid eligibility for children to up to 300% of the federal poverty level and providing dental and oral health opportunities in schools.

"The fact that the Legislature was able to come together in a bipartisan manner, that the governor included these things in our supplemental budget shows that policymakers are taking concrete steps to address rising costs in Maine," Woloson stated. "That will really make a difference in terms of improving access."

She pointed to other bills signed into law this year, such as one which would shed light on how much Mainers could save if the state used international drug pricing. Another would expand the scope of the Office of Affordable Healthcare, which was established last session, so it can provide policymakers with the tools and research to reduce health care costs further.

Another bill passed this session allows for easy enrollment. Tax filers will be able to check off a box to indicate they want information about their options for coverage. It is now on the governor's desk. Woloson said easy enrollment has proven to increase coverage in other states implementing it.

"It's really helped to bring younger people into the health insurance market," Woloson pointed out. "Which actually helps to decrease cost overall, because younger people are generally healthier."

Woloson noted last legislative session, Maine took the step of closing some Medicaid gaps, specifically for pregnant women and children regardless of immigration status. She emphasized advocates were hoping to see the effort continue on to cover all people regardless of status, but added her group will continue to work with policymakers on the issue going forward.

Disclosure: Consumers for Affordable Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, and Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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