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For Immediate Release

Date: 02/14/11

Rep. Wes Richardson Reappointed to Key Health Policy Council

AUGUSTA - State Rep. Wes Richardson has been reappointed to a second term on the Advisory Council on Health Systems Development, which has a sweeping mandate to examine virtually all facets of health insurance in the state.

The council also will help mesh Maine's health care system with the new federal health law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA).

"I'm honored to be returning to the council," said Rep. Richardson (R-Warren), a fourth-term legislator. "My focus will be on the cost of health care in Maine. Our costs are among the highest in the country, and they are a huge drag on our economy. If we want to have a prosperous state and good jobs for our young people, then health care costs must be brought under control."

Rep. Richardson has extensive experience dealing with health care. He has served on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee (IFS) in his last three terms and now chairs the panel. IFS has jurisdiction over health insurance; health maintenance organizations; mandated health benefits; health care reform; the Dirigo Health Agency; the State Employee Health Commission; and the state employee group health plan.

He also served last year on the new Joint Select Committee on Health Care Reform Opportunities and Implementation. In December, the committee issued an 84-page study of the ACA, entitled "Options and Opportunities for Implementing the Affordable Care Act in Maine."

"The mission was to run a full analysis of the law and figure out the best ways to proceed to help Maine citizens and companies," said Rep Richardson. "I am not a big fan of the federal law, because it really does nothing to control the cost of health care. In fact, I think it could make health insurance even more expensive. But we have to work within the confines of the law as it exists and try to make the best of it for Mainers."

The Advisory Council on Health Systems Development was established to guide the development of the state health plan and to analyze and report on factors driving health care costs.

It also advises on the Capital Investment Fund, which helps assure that new building and technology in health care is needed and affordable. Over the past year, the council has documented some $400 million in potential annual savings. It discovered, for example, that emergency room use in Maine is 30 percent higher than the national average.

The council consists of 20 members - 15 appointed by the governor and five appointed by legislative leaders.

Rep. Richardson, a retired community banker, represents House District 49, which includes Cushing, Friendship, Union and Warren. ###

Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445