The legislative session is beginning anew, and lawmakers will focus on a number of important issues including college affordability, strengthening our use of alternative energy, and balancing our state budget. In addition, expanding access to health care is a policy priority of paramount importance.

Maine has a choice to make. Either every family can have access to a family doctor, or we can continue with the status quo, seeing thousands of Maine children, seniors, and veterans go without health insurance and be one serious illness or accident away from financial ruin.

We can provide health insurance to thousands of Mainers, and the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs for the first three years, then gradually ratchet down to no less than 90 percent of the cost by 2020. Accepting this deal will save $690 million over the next 10 years, create more than 3,000 jobs, and ensure nearly 70,000 of our neighbors will have access to the care they need when they need it.

Given the moral and economic imperatives, Maine needs to move forward and expand health-care coverage. Each day we delay, we lose $700,000, or a total of $256 million per year. We need to stop denying and delaying health care to 70,000 people. Later this month, legislators will have another opportunity to do so. I hope the governor and my colleagues will join me.

State Sen. Rebecca Millett
Cape Elizabeth