The choices facing us in November’s gubernatorial election are nicely framed by two pieces in the May 13 Maine Sunday Telegram.

On the front page, the news article “Republican field pledges to follow LePage’s lead” describes a field of Republican candidates unified in their opposition to Medicaid (MaineCare) expansion. In a commentary on Page D1, on the other hand, Preble Street executive director Mark Swann (“A broken system”) describes the disastrous consequences of our turning a blind eye to compassion and social justice.

Lost in the ferment around Medicaid expansion is compelling evidence that it works. In a Sept. 13, 2012, New England Journal of Medicine article, Benjamin D. Sommers and colleagues tracked the outcomes of such expansion in three states (including Maine!) that chose to expand eligibility after 2000, comparing these with neighboring states without expansions. Most notably, Medicaid expansion was associated with “a significant reduction in adjusted all-cause mortality.” In short, increased access to health care for the poor saved lives.

It appears that the November vote will be between a compassionate embrace of life and the brutal social Darwinism that has marked the Paul LePage years. The choice is ours.

George McNeil, M.D.

Steep Falls

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