Governor Janet Mills today issued the following statement in response to a new federal report showing that Maine’s uninsured rate has dropped nearly 5 percentage points among those eligible for the 2018 Medicaid expansion to 2020, the third largest drop in the country.
“The people of Maine voted overwhelmingly to expand Medicaid, which is why I decided to implement the expansion on day one of my administration after months of unnecessary delay,” said Governor Janet Mills. “And now this report shows that the expansion is working, proving once again that the people of Maine were right. Expanding health care was the right thing to do for our people and for our economy. Nearly 98,000 people in Maine can see a doctor, pay for medicine, and receive preventative care to stay healthy — critically important as we recover from the pandemic. My administration will continue to fight for more accessible and affordable health care for all Maine residents.
“Under Governor Mills’ leadership, more Maineans are getting health coverage, preventing them from having to skip necessary care because of the cost,” said Health and Social Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambew. “It’s not only good for the health of the people of Maine, but it’s also good for the hospitals that have less unpaid care and for the state budget since the federal government pays 90% of the cost of the ‘expansion.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, Maine’s uninsured rate fell 4.9 percentage points – from 21.3% in 2018 to 16.5% in 2020 – among adults aged 19 to 64 whose income was below 138% of the federal poverty level. (about $17,600). It was the third-largest drop among states, after Virginia and Idaho, and higher than two other states (Nebraska and Utah) that expanded Medicaid during that time. During the same period, more than half of the states experienced an increase in their rate of uninsured among this population.
Uninsured rates fell in all five states, including Maine, that expanded Medicaid in 2019-20. The report does not include results from 2021, when Maine saw an even larger increase in coverage, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The Medicaid expansion was overwhelmingly approved by Maine residents in 2017 at the polls. After being stalled by the previous administration, implementing the expansion was Governor Mills’ first official act as governor and was his administration’s first step in improving health care for the residents of Maine.
Today, 97,821 residents are covered by the expansion, and it has helped more than 134,000 people in the three years since its launch, or about one in 10 residents. The federal government pays 90% of the cost of this coverage, which took on the cost of hospital care for patients who were previously uninsured, a decision that was particularly important during the pandemic.
In 2019, just weeks after the Medicaid expansion, Governor Mills also signed into law bipartisan legislation to codify insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions, ensuring that people in Maine with cancer, asthma or other chronic illnesses are not charged extra or denied. fully private coverage with state-regulated insurance companies. The law also required state-regulated insurance companies to cover dependent adults up to age 26 on their parents’ health plan.
In 2020, Governor Mills signed into law The Made for Maine Health Coverage Act, a unanimously approved bill that makes some of the most common medical visits free or less expensive; simplifies the purchase of a health care plan; leverages federal funds to help make premiums more affordable for small businesses; and puts Maine in the driver’s seat to ensure all Maineans have clear choices for their coverage.
In fact, the law prevents health insurance premiums from increasing more significantly, resulting in premiums that are on average 8% lower in the individual market and 6% lower in the small group market. what they would have been without the exemption.
Through his Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, the Governor launched the Small Business Health Insurance Premium Relief Program which reduces the cost of monthly health insurance premiums for small businesses and their employees. Under this program, health insurers receive financial assistance to reduce premiums for their small business customers by $50 per covered worker per month and up to $130 per month for family coverage. For the month of May 2022, 5,841 Maine small businesses received premium credits under the program. This represents a total of 46,802 Mainers (employees and their families) benefiting from premium reductions.
Also under Governor Mills, Maine created its own state-based health insurance marketplace – CoverME.gov. A state-based marketplace allows Maine to customize the marketplace to meet the needs of Maine residents and tailor reach and resources to uninsured communities. In its first open enrollment for 2022, CoverME.gov enrolled 66,095 people, a 10% increase from 2021, reversing the decline in Marketplace plan selections since 2017.