Maine Legislature

House Democratic Office

www.housedemocrats.maine.gov

 

 

For Immediate Release

Nov. 15, 2013

Contact: Ann Kim 287-1488, cell: 233-1838

 

REP.LONGSTAFF: 3,000 MAINE VETS WOULD BENEFIT FROM HEALTH CARE EXPANSION

Governor LePage should accept the federal governmentís offer for the good of Maine people

 

 

 

 

Maine has a real opportunity to care for the veterans in our state.

As I speak there are about 3,000 Maine veterans who could gain the security of better health care coverage, but to make that happen we need to accept the federal health care dollars available to us under the Affordable Care Act.

Good morning. Iím Representative Tom Longstaff of Waterville.

Iím a veteran of the Maine National Guard and the United States Marine Corps. I have a son and grandson who are currently on active duty in our armed forces.

Iím very concerned about the health and well-being of our fellow Mainers who have served in the military. Iím not alone. I think itís a value that most Maine people share.

A lot of people think that all veterans have comprehensive health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Thatís understandable because we all want to do whatís right for our veterans.

Sadly, the health care reality is much more complicated. A lot of things determine whether a veteran is or is not eligible for VA health services. Factors such as active duty status, income levels and whether a disability is related to the veteranís service are all a part of the formula.

And then, thereís a complex system to determine priority. And all of this before we even get into the question of how easily a veteran can get from his or her home to a VA facility.

In our nation, there are about 1.3 million uninsured veterans. A study by the Urban Institute estimates that half of them would benefit from the health care expansion included in the Affordable Care Act.

But each state needs to take action to make it happen. This means that we must accept the federal governmentís offer to expand health care.

In our last session, the state Legislature passed a bill to expand health care to nearly 70,000 Mainers, including those 3,000 veterans.

The federal government would pay 100 percent of those expansion costs for the first three years and would gradually reduce that percentage to no less than 90 percent after that.

That move would create 3,100 jobs and inject $256 million dollars into our economy. Instead, Maine is losing out on $700,000 a day, or $500 a minute.

And, of course, thereís the human cost of denying health care to Mainers.

Health care expansion is a good deal for Maine. And itís a deal worth fighting for.

Governor Paul LePage vetoed this measure even with an amendment that would have cancelled the arrangement if the federal government did not follow through as promised. He seems determined to keep up his opposition.

Other Republican governors have accepted the federal governmentís offer because itís good for their people. We need Governor LePage to put aside politics for the sake of Maine people.

Health care expansion will help tens of thousands of Mainers. Many of them work hard in low-paying jobs, like those in grocery stores and on construction sites and they donít get health care benefits from their work.

They have to worry that a serious illness or injury could mean financial disaster. But it doesnít have to be that way.

Maine people deserve to be able to see a doctor and get medical care when they need to. It especially pains me that many men and women who have served to protect our country do not have that security.

Letís fulfill our solemn commitment to care for our veterans by providing the access to the health care that they need and have earned.

Thank you for listening. Iím Representative Tom Longstaff of Waterville.

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Ann Kim | Communications Director

Maine State House Majority Office

2 State House Station

Augusta, Maine 04333-0002

Phone: 207-287-1430 | Cell: 207-233-1838

Fax: 207-287-8338

www.housedemocrats.maine.gov