Though “Obamacare” has helped a number of people in Maine gain access to affordable healthcare, too many people still don’t have coverage. Others have catastrophic coverage with a deductible so high that they pay for prescription drugs, emergency and chronic care out of pocket on top of the health insurance cost, which many still cannot afford. That is where we are today – with many families still unable to meet their basic healthcare needs; others struggling to pay their healthcare bills.
When everyone has access to affordable healthcare and we teach and create incentives for people to have healthier habits, then communities will be healthier and overall healthcare costs will go down. It is unacceptable that Maine has refused to accept federal dollars to expand MaineCare, leaving many people with incomes at or below poverty with no health coverage and no help affording coverage.
So here are some important facts about MaineCare expansion:
- Maine hospitals had $570 million in charity care and bad debt in 2014. A large portion of that is because people lost access to MaineCare when Maine reduced coverage instead of expanding during ACA implementation, and those people have no coverage.1
- Expansion would inject $320 million in federal funding into Maine’s economy in 2017.2
- Expansion would cause $500 million in additional economic activity.3
- Expansion would create 4000 jobs.4
- Those jobs and economic activity would add 23 million in tax revenues for Maine.5
- Expansion would help keep clinics and hospitals open in rural Maine.
- The services covered by federal dollars would include some that are state funded today – inpatient services for prisoners, and mental health and substance misuse programs – producing over $40 million in savings within the state budget.6
- 70,000 Maine people would have access to preventive care and other health care they cannot access today.
- In states that have not expanded Medicaid their private insurance costs are 7% higher than states that have expanded. So cost-wise everyone benefits from expansion.7
Ideally, every American should get the healthcare they need, none should go without. It is time for America to recognize health care as a right and implement single-payer universal healthcare. The reality is that other leading nations have accomplished this ideal. They have better health by many measures, from life expectancy to infant mortality rates, to overall health of their population. I believe that America is capable of doing the same. If we put our minds to it and put partisan divisiveness and special interests aside, I’m sure we can figure out the best way to extend Medicare to everyone, with everyone contributing according to their means in order to make it work.
It is not true that Canadians come here for medical treatment because of failings in their health care system. In a study of 18,000 Canadians only 90 had received care in the United States and only 20 of them by choice. The other 70 were emergency medical care while in the U.S. That’s just over 0.1 percent or 1 in a thousand Canadians that choose treatment in our country.
From the Commonwealth Fund a report on U.S. health care cost and performance compared to other countries
Today’s Healthcare Model is Broken – Expanding MaineCare Would Help – Universal Healthcare is Achievable