Health Plan Winners and Losers: Pending legislation rolls back health care reforms that protect older Mainers, rural residents, people with preexisting conditions and small businesses

Augusta, Maine (Monday, May 9, 2011)—The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) today released its analysis of L.D. 1333, legislation to rollback health care consumer protections facing a second vote tomorrow in the Maine House .  MECEP’s fact sheet, “Health Plan Winners and Losers,” details how the bill will repeal or weaken Maine health care consumer protections which ensure access to quality, affordable care for older Mainers, rural residents, people with preexisting conditions and the businesses that employ them.  The House passed the bill by a vote of 76-72 on May 5th.  The House is scheduled to vote on the bill again tomorrow before sending it to the Maine Senate for consideration.

“LD 1333 contains many provisions potentially harmful to Maine people and businesses,” MECEP’s analysis concludes.  “Supporters of LD 1333 fail to acknowledge the trade-offs between proposed changes and their impacts on older Mainers, the sick, and rural residents and businesses. As a vehicle for continued improvement of health care for Mainers, LD 1333 is a flop that will undermine shared prosperity and move us farther from effective solutions to Maine’s health care challenges.”

MECEP notes that older Mainer’s who are privately insured currently pay a maximum of 50% more for coverage than people who are younger and healthier. The pending legislation will allow insurance companies to charge these older Mainers four times more than the minimum rate. The bill allows insurers to use geographic location as a significant and separate factor from age in rate setting potentially forcing rural residents to seek care farther from home.  It also permits insurance companies from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Rhode Island to offer policies that are not subject to Maine regulation, eroding hard-fought consumer protections, essentially ceding control over Maine’s insurance market to out of state companies.

“Representatives from both parties admitted not having read the final proposal which included 20 pages of amendments to the 29 page bill that the Insurance and Financial Services Committee passed after less than an hour of deliberation,” the fact sheet notes. “As the Bangor Daily News noted in a May 7 editorial, ‘a bill to make whoopie pies the official treat had more legislative review and debate than LD 1333’.”

For a copy of “Health Plan Winners and Losers,” click here.