Working families in Maine need affordable healthcare coverage. On average, one in five dollars every Mainer makes is spent on healthcare, which is too much. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed to address this issue by aiming to provide affordable healthcare coverage for all, increasing opportunities to find better ways to pay for healthcare, and assisting employers in providing healthcare for their employees.
The ACA, along with the Medicare and Medicaid programs, are essential to delivering care in rural Maine. Healthcare and hospitals are significant job creators in our state’s economy, with hospitals being one of the four largest employers in fifteen Maine counties. Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid or the elimination of the ACA could leave tens of thousands of Mainers either dependent upon charity care or unable to access care that is in their community. Rural hospitals have clearly indicated that without a base of covered patients, they risk reducing services and staff, or even closing.
Make no mistake – I believe that healthcare is still far too expensive for far too many people and that there is a dire need to address this concern. However, the partisan bills put forward in the House and Senate in 2017 known as the American Health Care Act, Better Care Reconciliation Act, and Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act would have only served to make healthcare even more expensive for the people who need it most. That is why I am working with my colleagues to set aside these partisan efforts and move forward with bipartisan improvements to lower costs and expand coverage to even more people.
Improving the public health of Mainers is another high priority for me. We all share the goal of long and healthy life, from birth through childhood to adulthood. Our investments in infants and early childhood—through programs like the Mothers, Infants, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program – help start children off on the path to a long and healthy life. We also have to continue our attention to diseases like Lyme, West Nile, and Zika, working to manage the pests that spread these diseases.
The future of healthcare reform in the U.S. must focus on improved access to services and a reduction of costs. The soaring costs of healthcare in this country are not only a heavy burden on American families; they are also the primary drivers of our federal debt and deficit.