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County Health Practitioner Weigh In On Healthcare Coverage Debate in Augusta

| March 6, 2014


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More Mainers could be seeing more medical services by way of Obamacare and mainly Medicaid.

A bill that’s been halted in the Maine legislature could be moving forward this week. The bill would expand health care coverage thousands of Mainers under Medicaid if approved. But the bill has been chiefly opposed by Governor LePage.

Still some lawmakers see it as a viable way to help more people find coverage and regular healthcare homes.

And some county healthcare practitioners agree.

State lawmakers are in a contentious battle of wills in Augusta, over a bill that IF PASSED could provide health care coverage to more than 70 thousand Mainers. The bill has already been vetoed by Maine Governor Paul LePage, TWICE. But to override the veto and the pass the bill, the legislature needs enough votes in favor of it, including those from GOP lawmakers. The Maine Hospital Association says the bill would benefit uninsured Mainers. Members of TAMC’s Management Team agree, saying it would help give a healthcare home to more people in need.

Dr. Jay Reynolds is the┬áChief Medical Officer for the Aroostook Medical Center and says “it certainly would give more Mainers access to care if folks access the healthcare system soon than later if they make their preventative care visits get their preventative care down often times that could avoid costly care later on down the road.”

It would also drastically reduce healthcare cost and overhead according to TAMC Chief Financial Officer Bruce Sandstrom. He says the cost of free care the hospital has had to swallow in the past few years has skyrocketed. He says the bill would help pave the way in helping more Mainers get access to care, invest in their own wellness and thus reduce regular visits to emergency rooms. But Sandstrom AND Reynolds say the bill is not without its challenges. As far as cost is concerned it could inevitably end up costing Maine taxpayers.

“The federal governement would in the early years pretty much support the program in its entirety but there would come a time when it would fall back on the state of Maine and the taxpayers to cover that cost,” adds Sandstrom.

That’s been Governor’s LePages chief complaint with the bill. LePage tells Newssource 8:

“Tough decisions must be made in Augusta, but liberals are playing politics with the state’s financial future. The State just finished paying off a $750 million welfare debt owed to Maine hospitals because of the massive and unbudgeted costs of the last expansion. We cannot repeat history and expect a different outcome. Connecting these two bills is like putting another $750 million bill on the shoulders of Maine taxpayers.” -Governor Paul R. LePage.

Still healthcare practitioners say the eventual cost to taxpayers is still cheaper in the longrun than the cost Maine AND HOSPITALS for that matter are paying because of the uninsured..

“If we have access to patients and patients have access to healthcare through care coordination we can be more on top of their health conditions and make sure they get the treatment theyu need again sooner rather than later,” says Reynolds.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the measure later this week.

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