Recently, I met with my state representative to talk about accepting the federal funds set aside to increase access to health care coverage for thousands of hardworking residents through the state’s MaineCare program. I am thrilled to know he supports the extension of coverage to more people through Medicaid.

This decision makes sense for both the fiscal and physical health of our state.

By accepting federal dollars already allocated for the state, we’ll save the state millions of dollars currently used to treat uninsured people in emergency rooms or through charity care. And the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of covering newly eligible individuals in the first three years. This coverage started Jan. 1, so every day we delay, more money is left on the table.

By accepting the funds, we’ll allow nearly 70,000 Mainers who currently are uninsured to get coverage through MaineCare. That means they can see a doctor, get annual checkups, actually afford prescriptions or get preventive screenings. Many Mainers today cannot afford their utility bills, let alone buy health insurance or see a doctor.

As a woman living with cancer, I am especially concerned that others with a life-threatening disease have to make a decision between paying for food or paying for prescriptions.

Research shows people who are uninsured are more likely to develop cancer, have it detected later or receive inadequate treatment. They don’t get potentially life-saving screenings, or they may choose to forgo treatment once they are diagnosed because it would drain the family’s savings.

Increasing access to MaineCare just makes sense for Mainers. It will save lives and money. Please contact your representatives and ask them to support this issue.

Janice Ronan

volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Gorham