CUMBERLAND — Like a lot of Mainers, Janet Mills, the Democratic candidate for governor, knows what it’s like to struggle with the high cost of health care – it’s something she dealt with personally after her husband, Stan, suffered the stroke that ultimately claimed his life. That’s why I know Janet’s invested in making sure Maine families don’t have to go through what she went through.

Janet recently laid out her plans to lower the cost of health care for Maine people, and I was impressed by the depth and scope of it – it’s smart, pragmatic and compassionate. Just what Maine needs!

Her plan is a great example of why Janet is the right choice for Maine. She promotes policies based on evidence without losing sight of the people affected by those policies. While evidence is crucial, equally important is maintaining empathy for the people one is trying to help. If we start to treat them as data, we risk making decisions that denigrate their humanity.

Evidence and empathy, left brain and right brain, yin and yang – whatever terms we use, when we make decisions we need to use all of our faculties, both the logical and the emotional. Through Janet’s balanced, pragmatic policy solutions that don’t lose sight of the individual, Janet has shown time and again that she considers both.

I spent my career working on various parts of our health care system. I spent over 15 years working for a large benefits consulting firm. Twelve years ago, I moved to Maine, where I have worked as a consumer advocate and most recently as an independent consultant focused on health care access and drug pricing issues.

At its best, our health care system provides lifesaving care, but there are still many who struggle every day to access the care they need. Janet’s policies reflect her understanding of those difficulties. She supports practical policies that will allow us to do what Mainers have always done – help take care of each other.

Regarding the Affordable Care Act, Janet knows, as she’s put it, that “there is much more we can do in Maine to make health care accessible for all Mainers.” I couldn’t agree more – we’ve seen the ACA help many people, but some were left behind. We’ve also seen renewed threats from Washington to the most popular aspects of the law, including guaranteed affordable coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and the need for all insurance to offer a comprehensive set of benefits. Janet’s policies will help make care and coverage more affordable while protecting the gains we’ve made.

Moving forward to implement expansion on day one is another example of using both evidence and empathy. Doing so will provide practical benefits to the state (additional federal dollars) and reflects compassion by extending care to 70,000 Mainers who currently don’t have it.

Our discussion of the need to consider both evidence and empathy wouldn’t be complete without considering the opioid crisis. Janet’s plan looks at all aspects of the problem, from supply, to demand, to the toll it takes on individuals and families. Janet’s expansion of medication-assisted treatment is a textbook example of relying on the evidence – several studies have shown medication-assisted treatment to be the best way to treat opioid issues.

On the empathy side, the fact that when the current administration wouldn’t support the distribution of Narcan (the drug that helps those OD’ing on opioids), she found money from settlements she reached with the big drug companies and distributed doses to police departments around the state. She was so committed to helping as many as she could that she even carried doses around in her trunk.

I’ll close with Janet’s own words, referring to the opioid crisis but that apply equally well to health care issues in general: “The solution requires compassion, community, a change in culture and our full commitment as a state. … One more family torn asunder is one too many. One more orphaned child is one too many.”

Maine needs Janet Mills as our next governor. I encourage you to review her positions and see for yourself that her approach represents Maine at its best.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.