Mills: Open enrollment starts now



Dear Editor:

Health care, we all know, saves lives.

It shouldn’t be a luxury, or a privilege reserved for well-to-do people, and yet more than 106,000 Maine people still do not have health insurance.

That’s just unacceptable.

Everyone gets sick. Everyone needs to go to the doctor sometimes. As Governor, my top priority is to ensure that every Maine person can see a doctor, get preventive care and afford critical prescription medications to be healthy, to join in the workforce, to stay in the workforce, and to care for their families.

Affordable health insurance is vital to the strength of our economy and to our success as a state.

While Washington politicians have attacked the critical health care services that we rely on, Maine has expanded Medicaid, known as MaineCare, and has allowed more than 40,000 people to sign up for health insurance under the MaineCare expansion to date.

One of those 40,000 people is Kathy Stewart, a Waterville hairdresser. She has emphysema and she struggled to afford oxygen for many years before she finally got MaineCare coverage this year.

No person should live with the constant fear of becoming ill or perhaps even being unable to breathe because they can’t afford to see a doctor, can’t afford to fill their prescriptions or can’t afford to receive life-saving care. Well, like Kathy, now they don’t have to.

This session, in addition to expanding Medicaid, I also signed LD 1, “An Act To Protect Health Care Coverage for Maine Families.”

This legislation codified critical Affordable Care Act protections, like guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, a ban on lifetime and annual caps on coverage, allowing young adults up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance, and coverage for essential health services such as ambulance services, prescription drugs and pediatric care.

Our administration has begun a statewide campaign — CoverME— to help Maine people, self-employed individuals and small businesses understand all of their health insurance options and to sign up for the coverage they need.

This campaign is funded by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant and not with state dollars.

Maine is pursuing a state-based marketplace to put the state — not the federal government — in the driver’s seat when it comes to health care, but you should know that private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is available now to all Maine people.

The open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act plans began Nov. 1 and goes until Dec. 15 of this year. You can sign up for MaineCare insurance if you’re eligible at any time of year.

If you need health insurance, I encourage you to visit www.CoverME.gov to learn about what’s available for coverage options and to get enrolled in an affordable and an effective health care plan.

Governor Janet Mills

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