I thank Sen. Susan Collins for announcing her opposition to the Senate’s health care bill, which would result in millions of Americans losing health care coverage – including an estimated 117,900 in Maine alone. The Senate bill would be devastating for people in Maine with lung diseases like asthma, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The bill would let states opt out of the essential health benefits mandate for health insurance plans – creating a back door that would allow insurance plans to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions by charging them excessive premiums for basic medical coverage

Allowing states to repeal the essential health benefits requirement also means that plans could cap the amount they pay for patient care, thus re-imposing lifetime or annual limits. Without meaningful coverage and strong patient protections, Mainers with lung cancer, like myself, will be put at risk.

The American Lung Association knows that real health care reform must increase quality and affordable health care, not decrease coverage to the most vulnerable. The American Lung Association thanks Sen. Collins for her opposition and urges her to stand strong against the Senate bill so that a bipartisan agreement can be reached that puts the needs of millions of patients and Mainers first.

Lisa Eid

Gorham