Lawmakers Consider Expansion of MaineCare to All Immigrant Adults
Monday, April 3, 2023
Lawmakers in Maine are considering a bill to expand MaineCare to all low-income residents, regardless of immigration status.
LD 199 would ensure that everyone who is eligible for coverage under the state's Medicaid program, including non-citizen residents, can receive care.
Consumers for Affordable Health Care Policy Director Kate Ende said everyone benefits when everyone can get the care they need when they need it.
"Our health-care system is most efficient and works best," said Ende, "when everyone has coverage and the access they need."
The bill would reverse actions taken by former Gov. Paul LePage, who prevented noncitizen residents from accessing MaineCare.
It also builds on efforts by current Gov. Janet Mills to expand coverage to those who are pregnant and people younger than 21 regardless of immigration status.
Maine has the oldest overall population of any state in the nation, and the work in caring for that aging population has increasingly fallen to immigrants - who now fill 14% of Maine's home health-care jobs.
Ende said immigrants are not only helping support the state's economy, but they're doing some of its most important work.
"We need to make sure," said Ende, "that the people taking care of Mainers who are Mainers and living in Maine themselves can access the care they need as well."
Opponents of the legislation say lawmakers should ensure U.S. citizens have their needs met before extending benefits to new immigrants.
But Ende said expanding MaineCare to all immigrant adults also helps kids. Studies show when parents have health insurance, their children are also more likely to be insured.
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