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Governor’s Address: Federal Approval for Maine Medicaid Expansion Brings Us Closer to Affordable Health Care Coverage for All

This week, the federal government approved Maine’s State Plan Amendments to expand Medicaid – known as MaineCare – under the Affordable Care Act.This approval marks the end of a long-overdue effort to fulfill the will of Maine voters and to help tens of thousands of people access health care.

More than a year ago, Maine voters, including many of you reading this right now, voted overwhelmingly at the ballot box to expand Medicaid. Medicaid expansion is the law, and Maine people have waited long enough. That’s why, on my first day in office, I issued an Executive Order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to implement Medicaid expansion as swiftly as possible.

Since that time, we’ve already enrolled 18,129 Maine people in health care coverage under the Medicaid expansion program. Federal approval means the federal government will finance more than $800 million in estimated costs for those who enroll from July 2, 2018 – the effective date of expansion – through state fiscal year 2021. 

Those are Maine taxpayer funds that are finally returning to our state to support affordable health care coverage. The benefits of expansion – including the injection of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money into our state – will extend to rural hospitals, businesses, and our economy as a whole. 

Medicaid expansion has the power to change the lives of many Maine people for the better, and even save lives. Now people can see a doctor, receive preventive care, afford critical prescription medications, and much more. Now they can stay healthy, work, and care for and support their families. 

Expanding Medicaid will also help our rural hospitals, many of which are the biggest employers in their communities, by walking them off the brink of financial collapse. And we’re just getting started. In the coming months, my administration will work with partners across the state to ensure that people who qualify can enroll and receive the health care they need.

I hope that if you or your family are struggling with medical bills in this complicated health care system, you might explore whether you qualify for Medicaid, known as MaineCare, so that you can receive the coverage you need. You can enroll by visiting MaineCare online at www.maine.gov/mymaineconnection.

When my husband Stan had his medical issues and passed away four years ago, I learned an awful lot about the health care system in Maine. We were lucky: we had insurance. But dealing with co-pays, deductibles, and the high cost of prescription drugs is a challenge for everybody, and an even greater challenge, of course, if you’re not fortunate enough to have health insurance.

Health care coverage should not be a luxury or a privilege reserved for well-to-do people. It is a human right. And the fact that people don’t have health insurance to stay healthy and work adds to our workforce needs.

My top priority as governor is to ensure affordable, accessible health care for all Mainers, including every small business, entrepreneur, and family across the state. Federal approval and funding for Medicaid expansion brings us one step closer to reaching that goal, but I won’t rest until every eligible Maine person is able to access affordable health care.

Thank you.

Janet Mills

Governor 

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