This past December a federal district court judge in Texas issued a decision that would strike down the Affordable Care Act.
If that decision is upheld, nearly twelve million Americans - including more than 75,000 people in Maine - will lose life-saving health insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits like mental health coverage, maternity and newborn care.
I cannot stand idly by while Maine children and families once again may be forced to go without health care they need.
Good morning, I am Governor Janet Mills, and thank you for listening.
My Administration is moving swiftly, in concert with the Legislature, to help protect Mainers with pre-existing conditions, regardless of what happens to the Affordable Care Act in the courts or in Congress.
Before the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2008, the number of uninsured Americans and the cost of health care skyrocketed. Insurance companies would refuse to cover anyone with a pre-existing condition- so many people- or anyone they deemed to be “high risk” or too costly to cover.
As a result, too many of our loved ones, neighbors and friends went without care.
People like my friend Patty.
Patty was a vibrant, intelligent and charitable woman, an athlete, a mother of three wise children, loved by all… and uninsured.
She died needlessly from breast cancer, a disease that could have been diagnosed earlier and treated and cured.
Patty’s story is not unique. Many of you have friends like Patty. Their fate is unacceptable.
By 2016, because of the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of Americans who had health insurance had reached an all-time high of 91 percent and our national spending on health care decreased to historic lows.
We cannot afford to go back.
That is why I have joined Senate President Troy Jackson and Speaker of the House Sara Gideon is support of LD 1, "An Act To Protect Health Care Coverage for Maine Families."
In Maine, an estimated 230,000 adults are living with pre-existing conditions.
In addition to ensuring that no Mainer living with pre-existing conditions is denied coverage, the legislation prohibits charging seniors substantially higher rates because of their age.
LD 1 will ban lifetime and annual caps on coverage.
LD 1 will allow young adults up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance, and it will require ten essential health benefits, such as ambulance service, prescription drug coverage and pediatric care.
You know, health care is for everyone, not just for the well to do.
It is for the small businesses struggling to pay high health insurance bills.
It is for the family on the brink of bankruptcy because of one illness, or accident or medical mishap.
It is for the community that takes up collections in a jar at the corner store to pay for a neighbor’s medical costs.
It is for Patty. It is for you.
So I am proud to stand with President Troy Jackson and Speaker Sara Gideon on this very first bill of the Legislative session to continue the important work of ensuring affordable health care coverage for all.
I am Janet Mills, Governor of Maine. I thank you for listening.