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Monday, November 13, 2017

Maine weather disaster calls for longer ACA enrollment

Maine experienced a weather disaster whereby many people throughout the state were without electricity, caused by power lines entangled in severe tree damages. In fact, power outages in Maine reached about 400+ thousand. Many roads were blocked by downed power lines entangled in fallen trees.

This tree fell on Westwind Drive in Topsham Maine, where we live- L'Heureux photograph 

In Bangor, Senator Angus King Announced to CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) a letter sent to the administer requesting an extension of open enrollment for Maine due to power loss following the October storm. King's announcement comes as he continues his Open Enrollment Information Tour at Penobscot Community Health Care.
BANGOR, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced that he sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, to request an extension of the 2018 Affordable Care Act open enrollment period for Maine. 

The request comes following a severe storm caused more than 400,000 people in Maine to lose power as the shortened open enrollment period began.

“As you may know, a severe storm with hurricane-force winds recently hit Maine causing historic, widespread power outages,” Senator King wrote in the letter. “Without access to electricity and or communications it is nearly impossible to effectively shop for health insurance. Clearly, for those trying to enroll in healthcare, the timing of this event is dire. Because of the storm damage many Maine residents will lose nearly 1/3 of the Open Enrollment period… I respectfully ask that you consider extending the Open Enrollment period for the State of Maine to provide those recovering from the storm additional time to shop for health insurance coverage.”

Senator King announced the letter at Penobscot Community Health Care, where he continued his open enrollment information tour to provide information to Maine citizens about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period. Open enrollment began on November 1st and currently stands to end on December 15th. The press conference featured health care professionals and advocates, application assisters, and health care providers.

In recent months, the Donald Trump Administration has launched numerous efforts to undermine open enrollment including reducing the length of open enrollment from 12 weeks to 6 weeks, announcing a 12-hour shutdown of the ACA website over weekends, and drastically cutting funding for advertising and insurance navigator programs. Despite these changes, the Affordable Care Act’s benefits and assistance with enrollment remain available for those who sign up within the shortened time period.

Senator King has been outspoken in his desire to improve the Affordable Care Act to protect coverage for the millions who rely on it for affordable healthcare, and is a cosponsor of the bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to stabilize the individual health insurance marketplace.

Today’s event marks the latest iteration of Senator King’s Open Enrollment information tour. In October, Senator King joined health care professionals and advocates at the Opportunity Alliance in South Portland to encourage Maine people to learn more about their health care options and get coverage, and in earlier this week he spoke about the importance of insurance at Central Maine Medical Center, in Lewiston. 

Senator King also hosted a Facebook live on the topic where he shared a personal story about how insurance saved his life more than 40 years ago, when he was diagnosed with skin cancer (Melanoma).

This is a compassionate and reasonable request from Senator King, made on behalf of all Maine people who were unable to access the Internet during the weather related computer interruptions and loss of electricity.  Thank you Senator King.

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