Maine Legislature

House Democratic Office

www.housedemocrats.maine.gov

 

 

 

April 6, 2011

Contact: Jodi Quintero [Treat], 287-1488, c. 841-6279

 

Mainers deserve affordable health care

Maine-based insurance marketplace would lower costs for all Maine people

 

Good morning, Iím State Representative Sharon Treat from Hallowell.

 

Thank you for tuning in.

 

This week in Augusta, lawmakers considered important legislation that would have made health care more affordable, by setting up marketplaces where Maine people can compare insurance plans, and choose the one thatís right for them.

 

The marketplaces --  called exchanges -- will give individual consumers and small businesses more control, more quality choices, and better protections if and when they need to shop for health insurance. 

For too long, the health insurance market has worked very well for big insurance companies, but not so well for patients and providers. The fear that our health insurance wonít be there when we need it most has been shared by so many Maine families.

The exchange will give thousands of Mainers peace of mind. Right now too many middle class families have nowhere to turn if they lose the coverage offered by their employer or simply canít afford health care.

 

Middle class families and businesses are feeling squeezed in this tough economy. A Maine health exchange will help put more money in the pockets of middle class families and businesses, by directly lowering the cost of going to the doctor.

 

Under a Maine-based exchange, a family of four earning the median income of $46,000 a year could get a tax credit of up to $10,000 a year. The credit would cover nearly 80 percent of the familyís total cost of health care for the year.

This week Republicans voted against setting up a Maine-based exchange. They chose to wait for the federal government to step in.

Why delay action to help Maine people lower health care costs? It makes no sense.

Lawmakers should be quickly moving to lower health care costs for Maine people, not playing politics in an election year.

Health care problems are too big for one party to fix Ė we need to come together to find a solution to strengthen Maineís health care system today and for future generations.

The Affordable Care Act isnít perfect, but we canít go back to the health care system we had before.

The Affordable Care Act gives hard working, middle class families the security they deserve. It forces insurance companies to play by the rules. It prohibits them from discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition, from dropping your coverage if you get sick, from billing you into bankruptcy because of an illness or injury, or from limiting your annual or lifetime benefits.

 

A pro-consumer, Maine-based exchange will be an important health insurance alternative for small business owners. Sole proprietors and people who are unemployed will have the purchasing power of big companies.

 

Businesses, doctors, and hospitals all support a Maine-based exchange. Even the Chamber of Commerce said the Republican vote against setting up an exchange in Maine was a ďlost opportunityĒ for Maine people.

 

Doing nothing and waiting for the federal government to step in wonít just delay access to affordable health care.  It gives Maine people less of a voice. Maine is the most rural state in the nation and we need more than a cookie cutter exchange.

 

Instead of creating a Maine-based exchange for Maine people, Republicans have advanced a ďdo-nothingĒ bill to require fingerprinting and licensing of consumer advocates, who are supposed to help people obtain affordable health insurance.

 

This proposal violates federal law and will get in the way of helping more people afford health care. It does not put Maine people first.

Everyone in Maine should have access to affordable health care.

 

Maine needs a consumer-friendly, cost-effective exchange that meets the needs of Maine people.

 

Itís not too late to call your lawmakers and urge them to vote to put your health care first.

 

Thank you for listening. Iím State Representative Sharon Treat.

 

Have a wonderful holiday weekend with your family.

 

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Jodi Quintero

Communications Director

House Democrats

o. 207.287.1488

c. 207.841.6279