January 21

Maine lawmakers to consider single-payer health care system

Supporters of the bill want to adopt a government-run program, but a critic calls that unwise and expensive.

By Joe Lawlor jlawlor@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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“Imagine if small businesses, or any business, could be entirely focused on the products and services they provide, and not worrying about insurance,” he said.

Maine AllCare is poised to gather signatures to put the issue on the statewide ballot by 2017, if the Legislature doesn’t act by then.

A written statement from the governor’s office details why LePage believes single-payer is not the answer.

“A single-payer health care system will not fix the problem,” said Holly Lusk, senior policy adviser for LePage. “Making care free to people means they will use more of it. Using more care will accelerate cost growth even more.”

LePage’s opponents in this year’s race for governor, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler, were noncommittal in statements issued to the Portland Press Herald.

Michaud wrote, “I would be interested in exploring a single-payer system down the road, but right now the most important thing we can do is fully implement the Affordable Care Act by expanding access to health care to 70,000 eligible Mainers (by expanding Medicaid) and creating a state-run exchange.”

Cutler wrote that the “important issue is less who pays than what we pay for.”

“Truly universal access to preventive care is the key. We will decide with the Legislature whether the structure ought to be single- or multi-payer,” Cutler wrote. “We must focus on keeping people healthy, so that we are not just paying for costly procedures after people get sick.”

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:


Twitter: @joelawlorph

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