Maine DHHS Builds on Key Accomplishments

November 10, 2022

As Maine and the nation sort through the results and implications of the election for 2023, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is looking back at accomplishments over the past four years that will set the stage for further gains during a second term for Governor Janet Mills.

DHHS’ work from 2019 to 2022 has been driven by our mission to advance health, safety, resilience, and opportunity for Maine people. As the largest state agency, DHHS serves one in three Maine residents.

The following highlights are just a few of the many results the Department has achieved in the last four years, reflecting work by our employees that often occurs behind the scenes. The Department’s accomplishments on behalf of Maine people include:

  1. Running one of the best-rated state responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to analyses by the Commonwealth Fund and the National Bureau of Economic Research.
  2. Leading the nation with the largest drop in the state uninsured rate from 2019 to 2021 – more than other states that expanded Medicaid in 2019 which was Governor Mills’ first action.
  3. Implementing a first-of-its-kind State Innovation Waiver that reduced the average health insurance premium for Maine small businesses for the first time in at least two decades.
  4. Strengthening private health insurance affordability and protections:
    • Codified in state law insurance protections such as preventive services coverage and protections for people with pre-existing conditions;
    • Launched a State-based Marketplace, reversing enrollment declines and increasing the number of people with Marketplace coverage by 10 percent between 2021 and 2022; and
    • Implemented “Clear Choice Plans” to simplify copays and require health plans to cover the first primary and behavioral health care visits before any deductible.
  5. Reforming how Maine pays for Medicaid through a comprehensive rate system evaluation and a law that ensures regularly updated, evidence-based payments that support high-quality health care for Maine people and fair and sustainable reimbursement to Maine's health and social services providers.
  6. Improving Maine’s behavioral health system:
    • Invested $230 million in behavioral health services in 2022 and 2023 alone;
    • Launched pilots including the MaineMOM program to improve care for parents with substance use disorders and their infants, and a crisis center “living room” as an alternative to jail or an emergency department; and
    • Added a unit to Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center tailored to serve older adults and restored Federal funding for the Riverview Psychiatric Center.
  7. Increasing by 46 percent, from 2017 to 2022, the number of adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities receiving residential services supports, which also resulted in the majority of individuals being served in family-style “shared living” rather than group homes.
  8. Maintaining and building child care slots beyond pre-pandemic levels, creating permanent salary supports for over 7,000 child care workers, and incentivizing child care construction to add as many as 4,700 new slots as part of the work of the Children’s Cabinet.
  9. Implementing Higher Opportunity for Pathways to Employment (HOPE), with 193 parents earning 205 degrees and credentials, and expanding statewide “two-generation” supports to improve outcomes for the whole family.
  10. Supporting community-based organizations to address COVID-19, with 30 percent of services for nearly 30,000 people being provided by ethnic and community-based organizations, and addressing other health disparities and removing barriers to services for asylum seekers.