March 13, 2013

Report: Maine should accept health care funds

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Accepting federal funds under the Affordable Care Act would create jobs, fuel Maine's economy and provide health care coverage to as many as 69,500 Mainers, according to a new report.

The report, "Federal Health Care Funding Makes Dollars and Sense for Maine," was released Tuesday by Maine Equal Justice Partners and the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

Under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, if a state increases Medicaid eligibility, the federal government pays 100 percent of additional costs for the first three years.

Gov. Paul LePage signaled Monday that he's open to participating in the federal health care law's Medicaid expansion program, but will seek the "best deal for Mainers."

Republicans nationally have been urged to reject Medicaid expansion because it's part of President Obama's federal health care reform plan, but several Republican governors who opposed the plan have since said they will accept Medicaid expansion funds.

"Accepting these funds is a bargain Maine cannot afford to pass up," said Garrett Martin, executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

The report also says the additional federal funds would increase health coverage in rural Maine and provide an economic boost in areas with high numbers of health-related jobs.

"Too many of our family members, neighbors and friends are one illness or one accident away from financial ruin because they lack health care coverage despite working hard," said Sara Gagn?olmes, executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners, which advocates for low-income Mainers.

"It doesn't have to be this way. If Maine accepts the federal funds available under the Affordable Care Act, then we can cover more people and save money by providing preventive services and reducing the cost associated with treating uninsured people in emergency rooms," she said.

 

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com

 

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