Central Maine Healthcare Supports Medicaid Expansion

Learn the facts about Question 2

This November, you have the opportunity to help your fellow Mainers gain access to healthcare when you vote yes on Question 2, which asks whether or not the state should expand its Medicaid health insurance program known as MaineCare.

Our mission is to improve the lives of patients and elevate the health of the communities we serve. An important part of this mission is supporting access to affordable, safe and high-quality healthcare for all. Passage of Question 2 would provide MaineCare to an additional 80,000 adults - more than half of whom are hard-working in restaurants and food service, construction, and grocery stores, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This is why we're supporting its passage.

Who can be insured by MaineCare?

MaineCare helps children, seniors, low income families and people with disabilities the most. It provides insurance for one out of every three children in Maine, and pays for over 40 percent of births. For low-income working families, health insurance through an employer may be too expensive or not available, making MaineCare the only option for family health insurance, particularly in rural areas.

Why is this important?

For many Mainers, there's no other viable option for health insurance coverage than MaineCare. Without coverage, thousands of people delay obtaining care. As a result, their illnesses get worse, more complex, and more difficult and expensive to treat. It also causes patients to rely more on Emergency Departments for care, an expensive, short-term fix rather than the preventive, continuous care available to patients who have their own doctor. MaineCare also pays for routine checkups, prescription drugs and hospital stays, school-based services, mental health treatment, and home health.

What's the financial impact?

MaineCare is jointly financed by the federal government and the state. If MaineCare were expanded to additional adults, the federal government would pay up to 90 percent of the additional cost.

Expansion will provide affordable access to healthcare for uninsured Mainers. It will help reduce the bad debt patients incur when they can't pay for the healthcare services they've received--costs that are frequently passed on to consumers and businesses with insurance coverage. In addition, it helps hospitals reduce charity care costs--the cost of care written off when patients can't pay--costs that, for us, have risen 63 percent this fiscal year compared to FY 2015.

Expanding access is also good for the health of hospitals which play a critical role in their communities. Increases in charity care coupled with reductions in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements healthcare systems currently face impacts ability to invest in facilities, new technology and clinical programs needed to meet evolving healthcare needs. Healthcare is the largest source of employment in Maine, with wages that are 17 percent above the state average, but the majority of hospitals in the state are currently operating at a loss, due in part to the loss of MaineCare coverage for thousands of families over the last few years.

Expanding Medicaid is also good for the health of Maine's economy. Because more people would have access to affordable healthcare under expansion increasing the demand for healthcare services, around $500 million would be injected into economy in the next two years and 6,000 new jobs would be created, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

What we're doing

We're committed to working on the collective health of our communities in addition to focusing on individual patients. This way, we can reduce the cost of healthcare by identifying and preventing healthcare issues within entire communities. Almost one quarter of our rural neighbors are insured through MaineCare, compared to only 18 percent elsewhere. Because Central Maine Healthcare serves many rural communities, we're particularly dependent on MaineCare to allow us to continue providing prevention services and primary care at community health centers.

We also realize we're an important part of the solution. We too are evolving and leading the change in healthcare delivery in Maine by adopting a value-based healthcare delivery model based on cost, access, quality and service so that we can continue meeting the healthcare needs of our communities.

What can you do?

Support Medicaid expansion when you vote on Question 2. For thousands of Mainers, many of whom are your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers - their lives depend on it.

Dervilla McCann, M.D., FACC, MPH
Chief of Population Health
Central Maine Healthcare