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December 02, 2013

King Highlights Affordable Care Act Successes in Maine

Despite rocky rollout, new health care law is supporting better care practices and cost-saving measures like preventive care

PORTLAND, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King joined today with a network of healthcare providers from MaineHealth, as well as a group of students from East End Community School in Portland, to promote some of the little-noted ways in which the Affordable Care Act is having a positive impact in Maine.

Senator King, who supports the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but has been critical of the flawed rollout of the federal exchange website, met with representatives from Maine’s largest family of not-for-profit health care providers, MaineHealth, to discuss the marked success of the group’s Accountable Care Organization (ACO). ACOs, which are incentivized under the ACA through several programs including the Medicare Shared Savings Program, attempt to facilitate coordination and cooperation among health care providers in order to improve the quality of care and reduce unnecessary costs. Specifically, ACO arrangements provide financial incentives for providers to improve quality and reduce costs by providing the payment reform necessary to invest in improved value of care for patients.

Senator King also visited East End Community School in Portland, where he observed students participate in Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0, a nationally-recognized childhood obesity prevention program aimed at increasing physical activity and healthy eating habits for students from birth to age eighteen. Let's Go! works to reach families where they live, study, work and play by focusing on six areas – school, afterschool, childcare, workplace, community and healthcare – and emphasizes a “5-2-1-0 message” (5 or more fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of recreational screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity and 0 sugary drinks, more water and low fat milk a day). The Affordable Care Act invests heavily in preventive care and wellness measures, like those of Let’s Go!

“As I witnessed today, the Affordable Care Act is already beginning to make a positive difference here in Maine, even despite the problematic rollout of the federal exchange website,” Senator King said. “For example, I saw firsthand at MaineHealth how the new law is supporting improved care practices through innovative Accountable Care Organizations, and at East End Community School I saw a nationally-recognized example of preventive and wellness care with the Let’s Go! program, which the ACA is bolstering through a $2.4 million Community Transformation Grant. These ACA-supported developments will go a long way in helping Mainers to not only live healthier lives, but to also save more money in the long-run.”

“MaineHealth has developed a large and successful Accountable Care Organization with approximately 69,000 covered lives,” said Frank McGinty, Executive Vice President and Treasurer of MaineHealth. “The Affordable Care Act promoted the development of these Accountable Care arrangements through its Medicare Shared Savings Program, and MaineHealth has successfully engaged in similar contracts with commercial insurers. MaineHealth programs, sponsored by the ACA, have resulted in decreased hospital readmission rates, and they have also improved the appropriate use of imaging studies like X-rays and CT scans. Maine has the highest quality hospitals in the country, and we are working hard to deliver on the promise of the ACA, but it is important to note that our investments are jeopardized by ongoing cuts to Medicare payments.”

Ed Kane, Harvard Pilgrim's Vice President, Maine said, “The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation has been honored to be the primary funder of Let's Go 5-2-1-0 in Maine for some years. This year, ACA funds will provide almost 10 percent of the Let's Go 5-2-1-0 budget.  It's a great example of the ACA's buttressing and building on prevention and wellness ideas of proven efficacy.”   

BACKGROUND: Senator King has become a vocal proponent of preventive care measures, often noting that the increasing costs of health care in the United States is the primary drivers of future federal debt and deficit.

In August, Senator King joined with Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) to introduce the Preventive Health Savings Act of 2013. Among other things, the legislation would direct the Congressional Budget Office to more accurately reflect the cost-savings of preventive healthcare, including screenings. For more information on the bill, click here.

Senator King, along with Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA) and 17 other colleagues, also introduced earlier this year the Medicare Drug Savings Act, which would eliminate a special deal for brand-name drug manufacturers that allows them to charge Medicare higher prices for prescription drugs for some seniors and people with disabilities, including about 97,000 Mainers. The bill would save $141.2 billion, helping to responsibly reduce the deficit, and avoid reckless proposals to cut Medicare benefits. For more information, click here.


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