BATH

On Wednesday, the Sagadahoc County Democratic Committee and Maine Allcare held a forum on universal health care at the Patten Free Library.

Maine Allcare is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that has worked for several years toward implementing a single-payer system — sometimes referred to as Medicare for all — in the state of Maine. Bill Clark of the Midcoast chapter of Maine Allcare says that the state should emulate the example of countries that have adopted single-payer systems, such as Canada.

“Let me put it this way: In single-payer countries, physicians are happy, patients are happy, politicians are happy, everybody’s happy.” said Clark.

The evening also featured a viewing of the film “Now Is The Time.” The short documentary, which was produced by Educational Videos Plus with financial support from Healthcare for All Oregon, explores various attempts to create single-payer health care systems in the United States and advocates for their implementation at the state or national level.

Specifically, it highlights efforts to pass single-payer health care bills through the legislature in New York and the failed attempt to create one in Vermont. It also looks at the national Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, of which Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, is a co-sponsor.

In Maine, efforts are underway to introduce elements of a single-payer system to the state.

“Here in Maine, we have several legislators who are interested. Two of them sit on the Maine Allcare board: Troy Jackson from up north and Sen. Geoff Gratwick from the Bangor area,” said Clark.

Both Gratwick and Rep. Heidi Brooks, D-Lewiston, will introduce bills during the current legislative session to move Maine toward a single-payer system, Clark said.

For Will Neilson, who ran for the Maine House of Representatives in the fall, the Affordable Care Act was flawed, but it moved the ball forward toward a better, single-payer system. The failure of Republicans in the House of Representatives to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act last week leaves the future of the United States health care system uncertain, he added, but also leaves the door open to move closer to a single-payer system.

“Maine might be a place where this could work a few years down the road if everything falls apart otherwise,” said Neilson.

Barring success in the state Legislature, Maine voters may see universal health care on the ballot in the future.

“Our current plan is, if the Legislature doesn’t do anything — which is likely, we put up a citizens’ initiative in 2020,” said Clark.

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What’s Allcare?

MAINE ALLCARE is a volunteer driven nonprofit organization that has worked for several years toward implementing a single-payer system — sometimes referred to as Medicare for all — in the state of Maine.



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