New Federal Report Shows Maine Has Third Largest Decline in Uninsured Rate Among Maine People Eligible for Medicaid Expansion

August 3, 2022

Governor Janet Mills released the following statement today in response to a new Federal report showing Maine’s uninsured rate dropped nearly 5 percentage points among those eligible for Medicaid expansion from 2018 to 2020, the third largest decline in the nation.

            “Maine people voted overwhelmingly to expand Medicaid, which is why I moved to implement expansion on day one of my administration after months of needless delay,” said Governor Janet Mills. “And now, this report shows that expansion is working, proving once again that Maine people were right. Expanding health care was the right thing to do for our people and for our economy. Nearly 98,000 people across Maine can see a doctor, afford medications, and receive preventive care to keep them healthy — which is critically important as we recover from the pandemic. My Administration will continue to fight for more accessible and affordable health care for all Maine people.”

“Under Governor Mills’ leadership, more Maine people have health coverage, preventing them from having to skip needed care due to cost,” said Commissioner of Health and Human Services Jeanne Lambrew. “This is good not only for the health of Maine residents, but it is also good for hospitals that have less uncompensated care and for the state budget since the Federal government pays 90 percent of the cost of expansion.”

According to the report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Maine’s uninsured rate dropped 4.9 percentage points – from 21.3 percent in 2018 to 16.5 percent in 2020 – among adults aged 19-64 who had incomes under 138 percent of the Federal poverty level (about $17,600). This was the third largest decline among states, after Virginia and Idaho, and higher than two other states (Nebraska and Utah) that expanded Medicaid during that time. Over the same period, more than half of states experienced an increase in their state uninsured rate among this population.

Uninsured rates declined in all five states, including Maine, that expanded Medicaid in 2019-2020. The report does not include results from 2021, when Maine saw an even greater increase in coverage, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation

Medicaid expansion was approved overwhelmingly by Maine people in 2017 at the ballot box. After being blocked by the previous administration, implementing expansion was Governor Mills’ first official act as Governor and was her Administration’s first step in improving health care for Maine people.

Today, 97,821 residents are covered through the expansion, and it has helped more than 134,000 people in the three years since its launch — or approximately one in 10 residents. The Federal government pays 90 percent of the cost of this coverage, which has supported hospitals’ cost of caring for patients that were previously uninsured, a move that has been especially important during the pandemic.

In 2019, just weeks after expanding Medicaid, Governor Mills also signed 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. The law also required state-regulated insurance companies to cover adult dependents up to age 26 on their parents’ health plan.

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.

In fact, the law is preventing health insurance premiums from rising more significantly, resulting in premiums that are on average 8 percent lower in the individual market and 6 percent lower in the small group market than they would have been without the waiver.

Through her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, the Governor has launched the Small Business Health Insurance Premium Relief Program that lowers the cost of monthly health insurance premiums for small businesses and their employees. Under the program, health insurers receive financial assistance to reduce premiums for their small business customers by $50 per covered worker per month and by up to $130 per month for family coverage. For the month of May 2022, 5,841 Maine Small Businesses received premium credits through the program. This represents a total of 46,802 Mainers (employees and their families) receiving premium reductions.

Also 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. In its first open enrollment for 2022, CoverME.gov enrolled 66,095 individuals, a 10 percent increase over 2021, which reversed declines in Marketplace plan selections since 2017.