Three years ago today, on her first day in office – January 3, 2019 – Governor Janet Mills signed an Executive Order expanding voter-approved Medicaid in Maine. Governor Mills issued the following statement today:
“As a result of Medicaid expansion, nearly 90,000 people across Maine are able to see a doctor, receive preventive care, afford medications, and take care of themselves when they become sick — all of which are incredibly important as we continue to tackle the pandemic,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Maine people knew that expanding health care was not only the right thing to do for our people, but it was also the right thing to do for our economy. My Administration will continue to fight for more accessible and affordable health care.”
Expanding Medicaid, which was approved overwhelmingly by Maine people in 2017 at the ballot box, was the Mills Administration’s first step in improving health care for Maine people. While 89,421 are currently covered through the expansion, it has helped over 120,000 residents of Maine in the three years since its launch — nearly one in ten people. The Federal government pays 90 percent of the cost of this coverage, which has reduced hospitals’ cost of caring for uninsured patients, a move that has been especially important during the pandemic.
Just weeks after expanding Medicaid, Governor Mills alsosigned into law bipartisan legislation to codify insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions, ensuring that Maine people with cancer, asthma, or other chronic conditions don’t get charged more or denied private coverage altogether from insurance companies regulated by the state.
In 2020, Governor Mills signed into law The Made for Maine Health Coverage Act, a unanimously approved bill that makes make some of the most common medical visits free or less costly; simplifies shopping for a health care plan; leverages federal funds to help make premiums more affordable for small businesses; and puts Maine in the driver’s seat to ensure that all Maine people have clear choices for their coverage.
Since then, under Governor Mills’ leadership, Maine has established its own State-based Health Insurance Marketplace – CoverME.gov. A State-based Marketplace allows Maine to customize the Marketplace to fit Maine people’s needs and to tailor outreach and resources toward uninsured communities. With a State-based Marketplace, Maine can set its own Open Enrollment period and, to that end, at the direction of the Governor, Maine has added an extra month this year –through January 15 rather than December 15– to give Maine people more time to sign up for a health plan.
Governor Mills announced last week that, so far, more than 65,005 Maine people have already selected plans for affordable health coverage in 2022 through CoverME.gov— a record high since the expansion of MaineCare.