Pat LaMarche, the Green Party candidate for governor, believes the key to fixing what ails the state – from high taxes to the loss of good-paying jobs – is universal health care, paid for with a 5 to 12 percent tax on payroll, including the government’s.

The former radio personality, who is making her second bid for governor after running a national campaign as the Green Party vice presidential candidate in 2004, says she focuses on health care because the current system is so expensive and inefficient.

“If we correct the health-care system, we’d have a major engine for business,” she said, save taxpayer dollars on health insurance for teachers and government workers and cut down on the cost of caring for the uninsured, who use the emergency room as their clinic.

“People have to believe that I can win,” she said. “The glass ceiling is my greatest barrier.”

On the issues

When LaMarche talks about the biggest issues facing the state, she invariably returns to health care. It not only drives up the cost of doing business, it also drives up the cost of government, for state-sponsored health insurance for teachers and state workers and for poor people on Medicaid.

Her idea is to create a universal health-care system that she says would save money. Employers would no longer have to foot premium costs for their employees, and those businesses that don’t offer health insurance would be required to kick in to stop the cost shifting to those that do.

“There are gigantic companies that rely on public assistance” to cover the insurance of their employees, she said, referring to Wal-Mart and other stores like it. Under her plan, they all would be forced to pay into the universal health-care pot, under a payroll tax ranging from 5 to 12 percent based on their number of employees.

The federal government would be billed for the coverage offered its employees; state and local government also would kick in to help pay for their share of the plan; and, Maine would petition the federal government to allow Medicaid participants to be included in the coverage, bringing with them federal matching dollars.

The plan would not have any deductibles or co-payments, and provide “just essential coverage. No Botox and no Viagra,” she said.

LaMarche calls the state’s current program for insuring the uninsured – Dirigo Choice – a very expensive “boo-boo,” which is failing because it is being run by a private insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.

On education, she says Maine schools are doing a “very good job,” but we need to find a better way to pay for them. She would put a 3 percent charge on Nestle or any other company extracting large quantities of water from Maine, and use the money to help defray costs in K-12 education, higher education and road projects.

On taxes, she would like to see the system overhauled, including getting rid of the traditional property tax and instead, collecting a transfer tax on the profit or capital gain made when people sells their home. She is against the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

LaMarche, 46, is a resident of Yarmouth, and has a son and daughter, now in college. She was a well-known radio personality on WGAN, a job she lost in 1997.

Pat LaMarche

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