The new Portland Phoenix has my cover story on how Maine Republicans railroaded a massive overhaul of our health insurance regime through the State House, and the political fallout that's followed. The majority party sometimes slams a bill through the system faster than anyone can digest it, but rarely do these bills involve such genuine life-and-death issues as those affected by LD1333.
The Phoenix cover artists even created this insurance lobbyist/devil figure to illustrate the piece. Hyperbolic, perhaps, but you have to admit it's eye-catching.
For the policy wonks out there, I did take the time to photograph the testimony submitted for the original April 27 hearing, back when this was but a four-page bill. The points raised for and against the loosening of restrictions on charging higher premiums based on a customer's location, gender, age, or health status, may still be valid in regards to those components of the new law. You can find it here as a 37-megabyte PDF. (Why the legislature hasn't ordered that all committee testimony be scanned and posted online is beyond me.)
Vermont also overhauled their health insurance system last month. The difference: they're going to a single payer model. Will be interesting to see which approach results in the best outcomes for these respective state's people.
(Cross-posted from World Wide Woodard)
L.D. 1333 would repeal many of Maine's basic health care consumer protections, allow out-of-state insurers to market policies in Maine without a way to enforce those policies and make sure claims are paid, undermine access to quality affordable health care for older Mainers, rural residents, people with pre-existing conditions and small businesses through significant rate hikes based on where you live or your age. Read this report by the independent Maine Economic Policy Center to find out more.
Rate increases. LD 1333 promises a lot, but it can't deliver on its promises, and in the process a lot of people, especially in rural Maine, will lose the insurance they have because they simply won't be able to afford the price increases. Read more »