The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policy or contribute to reporting or editing issues elsewhere in the newspaper or on. bangordailynews.com.
Maine had the largest drop in the number of people without health insurance in the country over the past two years. Having more people with insurance and access to health care is good for their health, as well as the public finances.
The decline in uninsured Mainers is another reason for the expansion of Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans, now called MaineCare.
Voters overwhelmingly approved Medicaid expansion in 2017. This came after then-Gov. Paul LePage has voted for legislation to expand Medicaid eligibility, which has been approved by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, several times. Even after voters approved a referendum to expand the state’s insurance program to more Mainers, LePage still refused to use it.
Gov. Janet Mills did this on her first day in office in January 2019. Nearly 100,000 people have gotten health insurance since then. Most of those were helped by the expansion of Medicaid he was working but they did not have access to affordable insurance.
According to the US Census Bureau, Maine’s uninsured rate has dropped from 8 percent in 2019 to 5.7 percent in 2021. This was the largest decrease among all states in the country.
Maine now ranks 14th among all 50 states in the number of uninsured, down from 26th two years ago.
Maine saw gains in both public and private health insurance, with a 1.1-point increase in the percentage of Mainers with private insurance.
There is many benefits have more people with health insurance. First, those who have just studied can now afford to go to the hospital. This means they can get preventative care and treat chronic conditions before they get worse. This includes mental health care and substance abuse treatment. This improves their lives and reduces costs for others.
Beyond the per capita benefits, having more people with insurance helps hospitals reduce uncompensated care and retain their staff. Maine hospitals saw their uncompensated care spending drop by $84 million between 2018 and 2020, according to the state’s health department.
“This is a great victory for the people of Maine, hospitals and other providers, and the economy of Maine,” Steve Michaud, president of the Maine Hospital Association, said about the Census Bureau data and the growth of Medicaid, which is funded by the federal government. government.
Medicaid expansion has also reduced costs for the previously insured as well lead to economic growth and employment.
“Over the past two years, despite the pandemic, Maine has fared better than any other state in improving health care,” said Gov. Janet Mills. press release earlier this week. “Now more Maine residents can see a doctor, buy medicine, and get preventive care, keeping families and our entire economy safe.”
The governor also mentioned other measures taken by the government to increase the availability of health insurance and health services, including. adequate protection for people with pre-existing conditions to be state laws and reduce health insurance costs for small businesses.
There is work to be done. Maine lags other New England states on the level of insurance people; more than 77,000 people in Maine still lack health insurance.
However, Census Bureau data show that Medicaid expansion, which was supported by many Maine residents and Maine lawmakers, has changed the state significantly.