Reporter Joe Lawlor’s recent article (Aug. 21) on the “byzantine” system of medical billing in Maine reflects only the “tip” of our dysfunctional health care system; a system that leaves 100 million people in the United States with crushing medical debt, a system that spends significantly more on health care than other wealthy countries but results in worse outcomes.

Last year, a group of Maine citizens who shared the common goal of achieving affordable, equitable, comprehensive health care for all Maine residents formed Maine Healthcare Action, a nonprofit organization. We proposed a resolve, approved by the secretary of state, mandating the Maine Legislature to draft a universal health care bill during the 2023-’24 legislative session. The resolve required 63,000-plus signatures in order to be placed on the November 2022 ballot. Unfortunately, cancellations of most outdoor and indoor events because of COVID-19 spread prevented us from reaching our goal.

Stopgap legislation, such as Senate President Troy Jackson’s reported intention to introduce a bill to regulate “facility fees,” is well-meaning but ignores the real issue of health care for Maine. With the November elections approaching, Maine voters should demand from every candidate running for state office to know their position on universal health care and how they plan to address the issue.

Larry Kaplan, M.D., MPA
Cape Elizabeth

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