Rep. Jill Conover reads to her son Matthew.  

September/August 2007

By Ramona du Houx

Rep. Jill Conover was elected to Maine’s House of Representatives last November and has jumped into her duties with enthusiasm. This representative means to make a difference in the lives of Mainers.

As a single mom it’s a challenge meeting the needs of a Legislature that had over two thousand bills to decide on. She’s always at the Capitol to vote, always there when press conferences are called, when hearings take place, or when some good cause needs support. She’s always there absorbing what’s going on, learning, listening, and acting for her constituents.

“It’s been a tremendous experience,” said Conover.

This dedicated public servant decided to spearhead the governor’s plan to help Dirigo Choice become self-administered.

She found herself inside a whirlwind of events with lobbyists, inside a debate that’s raging nationwide. Through it all Conover never lost sight of her objective.

During testimony on the bill she stated: “Dirigo is delivering for Maine, is leading the market as the best product out there, and is our best chance to get all of our people covered. The program, however, needs appropriate tools, such as the option to self-administer, as other entities have, which would expand coverage to more of Maine’s uninsured and underinsured small businesses and working families . . .

“LD 431 would enable Dirigo to expand by taking profits that would otherwise go to Anthem and investing them back into the program to help cover more people. This is the right thing to do because it helps our people keep themselves healthier. It is also cost effective, as access to preventive care and chronic disease management reduces costly emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Businesses benefit from a healthier and more productive workforce. And healthy families and businesses make a healthier Maine economy . . .

“Dirigo is the only plan in our state that offers accessible, truly guaranteed, comprehensive healthcare coverage on a sliding-scale basis that is there when people need it.

“Our families want health security that protects both their health and their assets. They are tired of paying more for less or nothing. Dirigo is unique in combining guaranteed issue — with no preexisting conditions and no medical exclusions or waiting periods — with guaranteed renewal, and offering this on an affordable, sliding-scale basis. No other plan out there combines these elements in this way.”

Late last spring, Maine’s Supreme Court ruled in a 5-1 decision to uphold the key funding mechanism in the Dirigo Health initiative, known as the savings offset. The court found that there were savings attributed to the Dirigo Health initiative and that those savings should go towards the program. “This is a victory for working families and small businesses,” said the governor.

The ruling gave credence to LD 431.

Conover’s bill gained a majority of support in the Legislature to enable DirigoChoice to become a self-insured agency, which will lower costs dramatically by cutting out the middleman insurance company. More small businesses and individuals could now find DirigoChoice easily affordable.

Rep. Conover is employed by Niemann Capitol as a marketing consultant. She has also worked with the United Way of Mid-Maine and the Maine Public Health Association. Last April she hosted a forum on global warming in Waterville.

“Energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy are all part of the solution,” said Conover. “Action is taking place here in Maine at the state level, in our communities and in our homes. But we can and must do more. We all have a part to play. Working together we can make a difference for our state, for our children and for their future.”

Conover is a self-described history buff and can trace her family roots back seven generations in Maine.

Her tenacity and, most of all, steadfast determination to keep to her principles during the entire process of getting her first major piece of legislation passed states clearly that she’s a rising star to watch closely.