April 5, 2013
The Honorable Justin Alfond
The Maine Senate
3 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333
The Honorable Mark Eves
Speaker of the House
Maine House of Representatives
2 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333
Dear President Alfond and Speaker Eves:
I am writing to support Maine's participation in the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, specifically LD 1066, An Act to Increase Access to Health Coverage and Qualify Maine for Federal Funding. This important partnership with the federal government would maintain Maine's standards for MaineCare and expand coverage to an additional 45,000 individuals, keeping more Mainers healthy and reducing costs to the state. I've never said that the Affordable Care Act was a perfect bill, but I believe it is a critical step toward making health care accessible for all Americans. The state and federal government must now come together to make the law work for Maine, and I stand ready to help implement this expansion in a way that best serves the needs of Mainers.
The Medicaid expansion makes sense for Maine because the state has always been a leader in providing its citizens with access to health care. The vast majority of Maine businesses, including small businesses, offer health insurance to their employees, and Maine taxpayers have remained committed to ensuring that low-income individuals and families are able to get the care they need. The Affordable Care Act brings other states up to Maine's high standards while recognizing the sacrifices states like Maine have already made.
As a result of Maine's long track record of ensuring access to health care, the Medicaid expansion will reward the state for its past generosity and make it easier to maintain the coverage that is already in place. Maine is one of eight states that would actually save money by participating in the expansion. According to analysis done on behalf of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, Maine would save $570 million, or 3.8 percent, from participating in the Medicaid expansion. The savings are expected to be even greater when other benefits of the Medicaid expansion, including reduced uncompensated care and improvements in population health, are taken into account. In order to achieve these savings, however, the state has to partner with the federal government and fully implement the Affordable Care Act.
Even more important than the achieved savings, the Medicaid expansion will ensure 69,500 Mainers either gain or maintain their health care, which will mean a healthier Maine. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012 found that states like Maine with an existing commitment to coverage above the previous federal minimums reduced mortality, decreased rates of deferring care due to costs, and increased rates of "excellent" or "very good" self-reported health. Participating in the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion will help our state maintain and build on these accomplishments.
The vast majority of people benefiting from the Medicaid expansion are currently employed but work in jobs that are low-wage and do not provide health insurance. These hard working Mainers deserve better access to affordable health care, and I voted for the Affordable Care Act to help these families. The Medicaid expansion provides an affordable way for our state to offer that care, and I encourage the full consideration of LD 1066. I look forward to working with the entire Maine state government to take advantage of this option.
Member of Congress