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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Affordable Care Act in Maine - fighting to expand coverage for uninsured

It's hard to believe, but here I am, again, sitting in Augusta, at a public hearing of the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services room, in Maine's State House, to advocate for the Affordable Care Act. If Maine would accept the funds, the coverage would provide thousands of people with health care coverage as well as provide people with jobs in the human services sector. These are not mutually exclusive points. As Maine looses population, it is essential for the state to keep the workforce healthy  and to create jobs to attract qualified workers.

Our state is among the poorest in America, but has not yet accepted the expanded funding offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), like 29 other states.  

Eloquent speakers are providing compelling testimony, made even more meaningful with data from states like Arkansas, and Kentucky and others that have accepted the available funds.

My testimony is supporting the American Nurses Association of Maine (ANA-Maine) in keeping with the association's mission of Nursing advancing our profession to advance health care for all.


LD 633:  An Act to Improve the Health of Maine Citizens and the Economy of Maine by Providing Affordable Market-based Coverage Options to Low-income Uninsured Citizens. Senator Saviello, Franklin
LD 854:  An Act to Increase Access to Health Security by Expanding Federally Funded Health Care for Maine People. Representative Sanborn of Gorham
LD 808:  An Act to Decrease Uncompensated Care, Reduce Medical Debt and Improve Health Outcomes. Senator Haskell of Cumberland

ANA Maine membership includes over 353 nurses who work throughout the spectrum of Maine’s health care delivery systems. 

ANA member nurses work in Universities, colleges, public health agencies, community health agencies, home care, hospice, mental health, acute care, long term care, and all other health care organizations.

We support the expansion of health care benefits to include all Maine people regardless of their socio economic status or their pre-existing health conditions. These three bills: LD 854 sponsored by Representative Sanborn, or LD 808 sponsored by Senator Haskell and LD 633 sponsored by Senator Saviello, include the provision to meet the criteria of helping as many Maine people to access health care coverage as possible. 

This is the fifth time legislation has been proposed and supported by the people of Maine to expand health care coverage for about 70,000 people under the Affordable Care Act.  Although a majority of the Maine legislators have supported these expansions, the political climate has rebuffed the legislations. 

Maine people elect representatives and executive officials to support their best humanitarian interests.  Repeatedly, the Maine legislators have supported the will of the people and passed the health care reform initiatives, but they were blocked from being enacted by political, rather than humanitarian, interests.
Maine loses important resources to help our most vulnerable citizens when our legislators are blocked from enacting health care reforms. 

Moreover, the health reforms in these three LD’s are reasonable, they have public support and, most important, they will continue to be heard in public hearings until, Maine joins the other New England states, that already have reform initiatives in place.

ANA- Maine urges you to vote to support these bills or, if you can, to create a legislative initiative whereby the intentions of these LDs are passed and implemented.  ANA Maine would be honored to participate in any efforts to expand health coverage for all Maine citizens.
Thank you committee members.
Senator Eric Brakey, Chair
Senator Anne Haskell 
 Senator Earle McCormick
Representative Andrew Gattine 
Representative Christine Burstein 
Representative Scott Hamann
Representative Frances Head
Representative Patricia Hymanson
Representative Richard Malaby
Representative Matthew Peterson
Representative Deborah Sanderson
Representative Deborah Sanderson 
Representative Peter Stuckey 
Representative Karen Vachon
Testimony in support of:  LD 808 and LD 865 and LD 633

Juliana L’Heureux, BS, MHSA, RN
ANA Maine

Juliana@mainewriter.com 

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