Augusta — Some issues are black and white and some issues have clear winners and losers, but when it comes to health care, there isn’t a single person in Maine who would say, ‘no, thanks, I don’t want any of that!’ That’s why the current debate about the wine, beer and soda tax, supposedly conjured up in middle-of the -night secret meetings and destined to bring Maine businesses to their knees, is wide off the mark. The story, and it’s a story American people have been clamoring to hear for many decades, is quality, affordable health care for everyone – employers, employees, parents, children, retirees. Maine has been a leader in trying to write that story and deliver on that promise for over four decades. In 2003, Maine was the first state to set the bold and important goal of assuring access to health care for all Maine people. Maine’s efforts to find both private market and public solutions to the health care crisis have led to the lowest uninsured rate in New England.
In this month’s Choices, The Maine Center for Economic Policy’s issue brief, we explore the Dirigo Health Initiative – its ambitious early goals, challenges to implementation, public expectations and financing obstacles. Quality, Affordable Health Care: A Work in Progress, A Window of Opportunity is authored by Dr. Robert McAfee, a Portland surgeon, past president of the Maine and American Medical Associations and Chair of the Dirigo Health Agency Board of Directors.
This report provides critical background on LD 2247, “An Act to Continue Maine’s Leadership in Covering the Uninsured,” and its new provisions to expand access, make coverage more affordable and remedy some of the defects of Dirigo Health as it’s currently structured and financed.
“Tough economic times are when we need health insurance guarantees the most,” states Dr. McAfee. “A few cents tax on discretionary spending seems a fair price to pay to bring affordable health care to hard working parents, their children and small businesses across our state.”
To access the report:
Quality, Affordable Health Care: A Work in Progress, A Window of Opportunity