Measure would improve economic stability for Maine families
Low-income women would have greater access to essential health care services under a measure introduced today by Rep. Joyce “Jay” McCreight.
LD 319, An Act To Strengthen the Economic Stability of Qualified Maine Citizens by Expanding Coverage of Reproductive Health Care and Family Services, allows for uninsured and underinsured low-income women to have access to important preventative services such as cancer screenings, annual exams, Pap tests, birth control and STD testing. The measure empowers women to make decisions about starting a family and prevents unintended pregnancy.
“For many women, family planning clinics are the only accessible sources of health care,” said McCreight. “This legislation will help women get the critical care they need, and it will also lower health care costs over the long run and save the state and the taxpayers money.”
Under the measure, the federal government would pay $9 for each dollar of state funds that goes toward the effort. Maine would join the 32 states that have already seen benefits by providing healthcare services to low-income women. The bill would provide publicly funded preventative health care to adults up to 209 percent of the federal poverty level, approximately $23,000 for a household of one.
“For women, reproductive health and access to affordable care are essential to their economic security,” said Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, a bill co-sponsor and the House majority whip. “This bill strengthens families by ensuring low-income women and teens can make the best possible decisions about their health.”
One-third of all American women are living very close to the poverty line, earning less than $47,000 per year for a family of four. Thousands of Maine women and the children who depend on them are one unexpected expense away from financial collapse.
The first-year savings to Maine are conservatively estimated at $100,000 and, by the third year, the state would save nearly $2 million.
The bill specifically does not cover abortion services. Federal law prohibits these funds being used for abortion services.
A similar bill passed the Legislature in 2014 but did not survive a veto from the governor.