AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage used his veto power for the first time Thursday to reject a bill that would prohibit insurance companies from including certain clauses in their contracts with health care providers.

In a veto message to the House of Representatives, Le-Page said that L.D. 1222 would create a “one size fits all” law that prevents “businesses from pursuing novel and creative approaches to achieve competitive advantages.”

“My administration strongly believes that Maine businesses have the right to contract with each other as they deem appropriate,” he wrote. “Laws and regulations that require or prohibit certain provisions of contracts take away the rights of job creators to independently organize their affairs.”

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Sharon Treat, D-Hallowell. The Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee unanimously endorsed the bill, which passed in the House and Senate on unanimous votes May 16.

Treat said health care professionals in small practices in rural areas, particularly physical therapists, supported the bill, which she submitted at the request of the Maine Medical Association.

She said health care providers associated with hospitals often get better rates than those who operate on their own, and she wanted to help level the playing field.

“This is a complete shock,” she said of the veto.

The bill would prohibit insurance companies from using “most favored nation” clauses in their contracts with health care providers. The clauses require providers to give insurance companies the lowest rates they gave to any similar insurers.

Measures to ban such clauses have passed in 11 states, Treat said.

The veto message will appear on the House calendar on Tuesday. The House will need a two-thirds vote to override the veto and send the bill to the Senate, where another two-thirds vote would be needed for an override.

LePage, a Republican who’s in his first term, has signed dozens of bills into law and has allowed several to become law without his signature.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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