In the wake of President Trump’s Friday decision to “immediately” halt payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act, Mid Coast- Parkview Health, Brunswick’s most prominent healthcare provider, is warning that blocking coverage to individuals will mean more costs to hospitals that provide charity care.

In responding to a request for comment on Trump’s executive decision, the hospital stated: “This is a dynamic and volatile time in health care with great uncertainty as discussions continue in Washington, D.C. regarding the Affordable Care Act. Here in Maine, hospitals are facing unprecedented financial challenges.”

The statement continued: “Any change that prohibits individuals from having health insurance shifts the costs to hospitals that provide charity care in our physician offices as well as for hospital services. Last year, Mid Coast Hospital provided $18.6 million in health care services to those unable to pay. The more people that are uninsured, the higher that amount will climb.

“People who do not have health insurance often do not get the care they need. The lack of availability of services for people without insurance often leads to complex illnesses that may have been prevented. It also forces them to rely on emergency rooms for primary care, which is very costly and less effective longterm.”

The hospital states that it will continue to improve patient care “while doing all that we can to reduce costs so that health care can be affordable and accessible to all.”

Delegates respond

Maine First District Congresswoman Democrat Chellie Pingree accused Trump of sabotaging Mainers’ health care, saying the executive order will lead to a spike in premiums for those with pre-existing conditions.

“The Executive Order signed today by President Trump is the equivalent of giving a backpack without a parachute to someone jumping from an airplane,” Pingree said. “Health insurance is useless if it doesn’t cover your health care needs, but this Executive Order opens the door to the bare bones plans that were insufficient for so many before the Affordable Care Act was passed.”

Even before Trump’s executive action late last week, Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, spoke in defense of the ACA’s health care marketplace on the Senate floor: “Mr. President, it is not collapsing — it’s being mugged. It’s being stabbed in the back. It’s being sabotaged, deliberately and consciously by the actions of the Administration. And I want to emphasize – this isn’t about ideology, it’s not about politics… this is about people.”

In his speech, King noted that “the uninsured rate has fallen 50 percent since the Affordable Care Act. That’s an enormous achievement. It’s one that should be celebrated, not sabotaged.”

GOP strikes back

On Friday, Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage fired back at King and Pingree.

“Mainers are independent and they expect their representatives in Congress to be, too,” Savage said in a statement. “Unfortunately, on health care, instead of offering constructive solutions to the crisis caused by Obamacare, Senator King and Representative Pingree are hiding their obstructionism by using national Democrat talking points dictated by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, falsely claiming Republicans are seeking to ‘sabotage’ health care. … Obamacare sabotaged Americans’ right to keep their doctors. Obamacare sabotaged Americans’ right to keep their health insurance plans. Obamacare sabotaged Americans’ 1st Amendment right to freedom of conscience. Obamacare sabotaged Americans’ wallets with skyrocketing premiums and deductibles. And now politicians like Schumer, Pelosi, King, and Pingree are sabotaging bipartisanship, obstructing any and all efforts to replace or even improve this fatally flawed law.”

Speaking in Rockport on Friday, Maine’s senior Sen. Susan Collins, R, reiterated her opposition to repealing the ACA without a suitable replacement.

“One of the reasons that there is partisan divide about the ACA is that the bill was passed without a single Republican vote,” Collins said. “How well I remember that Christmas eve in 2009 when the ACA was rammed through the Senate on a straight party-line vote. As a result, the flaws in the law were never addressed.”

Collins also stated: “Neither the ACA nor the Republican ‘repeal and replace’ plans tackled the underlying issue of escalating health care costs.”

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