March 26, 2012

Maine lawmakers stall health-insurance exchange

Republicans on a legislative committee vote against creating an exchange as they hope the new law is struck down.

By John Richardson
Staff Writer

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"This helps millions of people in really significant ways, and I would much rather go back and fix things that aren't perfect than throw the whole thing out," she said.

Treat's proposal for a state-run exchange was one of two rejected by the majority on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee. Maine may not have time to design its own program if it doesn't move forward this year, she said.

Democrats could try once more to establish an exchange when the committee recommendation gets to the full Legislature. A floor debate has not been scheduled on either of the relevant bills, L.D. 1497 and L.D. 1498.

Gov. Paul LePage could call lawmakers back to Augusta to establish an exchange if the Affordable Care Act survives, said Whittemore, the committee chairman. "If we're going to have an exchange, I feel it would be better to have our own," he said.

But some lawmakers no longer see the benefits of a state-run exchange at all, said Rep. Jonathan McKane, R-Newcastle.

McKane had proposed a bill more than a year ago to create an exchange, but now says it would be too costly and subject to too many federal rules.

"We see the state as getting stuck with the dirty work," he said.

McKane, meanwhile, is hoping the law simply gets struck down this summer. "There are just too many questions about the Affordable Care Act," he said.

State House Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:


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