Improving the health of Maine people through stronger, sustainable MaineCare coverage

May 13, 2021

On her first day in office, Governor Mills expanded Medicaid and directed Maine DHHS to develop a plan to make MaineCare stronger and sustainable. Today, nearly 78,000 Maine people have access to affordable health care through the expansion, which has been especially vital during the pandemic. The proposed budget allows DHHS to further improve access to high-quality health care.

DHHS’ plan builds on actions that pre-date the pandemic – including improving services for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities and filling urgent gaps in the behavioral health system – such as payment support for hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, long-term services and supports, and children’s and behavioral health.

The governor’s new Part 2 budget proposal for the 2022-23 biennium makes a down payment of $151 million for DHHS to further advance this plan for a strong and sustainable MaineCare. It aims to improve the health of the 350,000 low-income Maine people covered by MaineCare and support the economic recovery of the health sector in three ways:

  • Increasing provider payment rates for dozens of services, representing the first improvements to rates resulting from a comprehensive evaluation initiated by DHHS and completed earlier this year to rationalize, update and simplify how MaineCare pays for services. Over the years, MaineCare has used varying methods to determine reimbursement rates to providers, contributing to a fragmented and outdated system.
  • Making short-term investments to improve members’ health and save over the long term, including expanding access to preventive and routine dental care for adults and bolstering diabetes prevention
  • Adding $90 million to the Medicaid stabilization fund to continue implementing the plan over the coming years

The budget also includes funding designed to continue our support for health care providers working on the front lines in hospitals, nursing facilities, and residential care facilities. These proposals aim to provide a bridge from the challenges in 2020 and early 2021 to the future.

The new MaineCare initiatives complement those in the Governor’s original budget proposal budget that continue improvements in behavioral health, services for adults with developmental disabilities, and other ongoing work.

If enacted, the MaineCare initiatives in the Governor’s budget would significantly improve quality, accessibility, and sustainability of this critical health care program.