We all want our children to grow up and become healthy, happy adults. MaineCare ensures that our kids can access quality health care from the early years into young adulthood, beginning with helping expectant mothers receive critical prenatal care. To echo the sentiments of a recent Maine Voices column by Drs. Sheila and Michael Pinette, the Senate health care bill would be devastating to the health and well-being of so many Mainers, especially our infants and expectant mothers.

When expectant mothers get the health care they need, Maine children have a strong, healthy start to life. With a solid foundation early on, Maine children are more likely to be developmentally on track to reach their full potential. At a time when Maine’s infant mortality rates are especially high, we should be increasing access to health care not reducing it. Unfortunately, the Senate health care bill does the latter.

Over the past decade, Maine’s infant mortality rates have risen steadily and are now above the national average. The latest data reveal that infant mortality rates are highest in Maine’s more rural areas. The best way to effectively address Maine’s infant mortality crisis is by making sure more young children and families have access to health care.

MaineCare already covers more children and families living in rural areas than in metropolitan areas. The Senate bill could exacerbate Maine’s infant mortality problem by forcing Maine to cover fewer pregnant women and children.

Healthy and thriving Maine communities start with healthy babies, children and families. By opposing the Senate health care bill and protecting MaineCare, we can strengthen Maine’s future by ensuring that kids continue to get what they need prenatally through adulthood.

I hope Sen. Susan Collins will continue her support of Maine children, youth and families by opposing this cruel and reckless bill.

Claire Berkowitz

executive director, Maine Children’s Alliance

Augusta