By Ramona du Houx - September 16, 2014
According to federal Census Bureau data released today, the number of Mainers without any form of health care coverage grew by 12,000 in 2013 and the state uninsured rate rose from 10.2 percent in 2012 to 11 percent in 2013. Nationally, the rate of uninsured fell by .2 percent. Maine and New Jersey were the only states to experience an increase in the percentage of their people who do not have health insurance.
Speaker of the House Mark Eves, who led the effort to expand lifesaving health care to 70,000 thousands Mainers, including nearly 3,000 veterans, said the data show Maine is going in the wrong direction.
“Maine is falling behind because our Governor and his allies put ideology over the health of our people and the strength of our economy,” said Eves. “We had a chance to provide lifesaving health care to nearly 70,000 Maine people, and instead thousands lost coverage. We had a chance to grow thousands of jobs and invest millions of dollars into our economy and into our hospitals, and instead now we are lagging behind the nation in job growth and health.”
During the past two years, Governor LePage vetoed five different measures to increase access to health care for Maine citizens, including a bipartisan plan sponsored by two Senate Republicans.
According to the Maine Center for Economic Policy, the failure to expand health care is costing Maine’s economy half a billion dollars each year that would support over 4,000 jobs, and save hospitals millions of dollars for care provided to the uninsured.
A recent Forbes report showed that hospitals in states that refused to expand Medicaid will see increasing financial troubles. Quoting a study by Fitch Ratings, Forbes reported: “We expect providers in states that have chosen not to participate in expanded Medicaid eligibility to face increasing financial challenges in 2014 and beyond.
An analysis from the Maine Hospital Association for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2014, shows Maine hospitals have collectively lost money. According to a Press Herald opinion column on the analysis, the number of Maine hospitals in the red for 2013 doubled as hospitals saw greater numbers of uninsured patients in the emergency room.