Marginal improvements in income and poverty rates; progress in health care attributable to the Affordable Care Act
Augusta, Maine (Thursday, September 15, 2016) State-level data for Maine released today by the US Census Bureau showed Maine following many of the national trends in improved household income, lower poverty rates, and better access to health insurance. However, the data also indicate that Maine’s recovery is not as robust or as far-advanced as much of the country.
“Unlike most of the nation, Maine’s indicators showed little to no statistically-significant change from either the previous year or before the recession began in 2007,” said MECEP Policy Analyst James Myall. “Maine’s economy continues to grow more slowly and less vigorously than the nation’s and lags the performance of most other states. While nationally, median household income rose by 5.2% from 2014-15, household incomes in Maine rose by just 4.0%, the slowest rate in Northern New England. Maine’s 2015 median household income was also slightly below 2007 income levels, when adjusting for inflation, demonstrating that Maine families are still feeling bruised by the effects of the Great Recession.”
The new data also helped complete the picture of changes in Mainers’ health insurance coverage since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which MECEP noted in a press release issued on the bureau’s initial data release on Tuesday.
“The reduction in the proportion of Mainers without health insurance amounted to the slowest progress in the nation between 2010 and 2015,” Myall said. “Over that same period, the largest gains in insurance coverage came among those benefiting from the ACA’s reforms to employer-sponsored and direct-purchase insurance through the marketplace. The new data also reveals that the poorest Mainers showed the least progress.”
MECEP noted that among the population eligible for federal subsidies on the marketplace, there was a 2-4 percentage point increase in the proportion of the population with health insurance. Maine’s poorest, those earning below 138% of the federal poverty level, are now the most likely in Maine to go uninsured. One in 7 of those in this group (14.1%) did not have health insurance in 2015.
“While there are notable improvements for people eligible for federal subsidies through the health insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act, the coverage gap is as big as ever for those who aren’t,” said MECEP Executive Director Garrett Martin. “Where health insurance is concerned, the governor is a major roadblock. His refusal to accept hundreds of millions of dollars in annual ACA funding is limiting people’s access to affordable health care, costing jobs, and increasing insurance costs for everyone else.”