September 22—The BDN Editorial Board operates independently of the newsroom and does not set policy or contribute to the writing or editing of articles elsewhere in the journal or on www.bangordailynews.com.
Maine has seen the largest drop in the percentage of people without health insurance in the country in the past two years. Having more people insured and able to access health care is good for their health and for the economy of the state.
The decline in the number of uninsured Mainers is due in part to the expansion of Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans, which here is called MaineCare.
Voters strongly endorsed the Medicaid expansion in 2017. This came after the government of the day. Paul Le Page vetoed legislation to expand Medicaid eligibility, which has been repeatedly approved by Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Even after voters approved the referendum to expand the government’s insurance program to more Mainers, LePage still refused to implement it.
Govt. Janet Mills did so on his first day in office January 2019. Nearly 100,000 people now have access to health insurance. Most of those helped by the Medicaid expansion were working but previously had no access to an affordable insurance plan.
According to United States Census Bureau, from Maine the uninsured rate fell from 8% in 2019 to 5.7% in 2021. This is the largest percentage drop of any state in the country.
Maine now ranks 14th among the 50 states for the percentage of uninsured residents, up from 26th two years earlier.
Maine saw gains in public and private health insurance, with a 1.1 point increase in the percentage of Mainers with private insurance.
There are many benefits to having more people covered by health insurance. For one thing, those newly covered can now better afford to go to a medical provider. This means they can get preventative care and care for chronic conditions before they get worse. This includes mental health care and care for substance use disorders. This improves their lives and reduces costs for others.
Beyond individual benefits, having more people covered by insurance helps hospitals reduce unpaid care and maintain staffing levels. Maine hospitals have seen their uncompensated care decrease by $84 million between 2018 and 2020, according to the governor’s office.
“It’s a big win for Maine people, hospitals and other healthcare providers, and the Maine economy,” Steve Michaudpresident of the Maine Hospital Associationsaid of the Census Bureau data and the expansion of Medicaid, which is primarily funded by the federal government.
The expansion of Medicaid also reduced costs for those who were already insured and led to economic and job growth.
“Over the past two years, despite the challenges of the pandemic, Maine outperformed all other states in improving health coverage,” the governor said. Janet Mills said in a press release earlier this week. “Now more Maine people can see a doctor, pay for medicine, and receive preventive care, which helps keep families and our economy healthy. »
The governor also highlighted other steps the state has taken to increase accessibility to health insurance and health care, including codifying protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions into state law. State and reduced health insurance costs for small businesses.
There is still work to do. Maine delays other New England States for the insured rate; more than 77,000 people in Maine still do not have health insurance.
Yet the Census Bureau data shows that the expansion of Medicaid, which was supported by the majority of Maine people and Maine legislators, has made a significant difference in the state.
(c) 2022 The Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)
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