Augusta– On Monday, Governor-elect Janet Mills, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, and House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport announced the first bill of the 129th Legislature: LD 1, “An Act to Protect Health Care Coverage for Maine families.” The bill, introduced by President Jackson, seeks to require insurance companies to include basic patient protections in health care plans offered in Maine.
“I refuse to stand idly by as forces in Washington and elsewhere work to strip Maine people of critical coverage for pre-existing conditions and other essential health benefits like mental health and maternity and newborn care,” said Governor-elect Mills. “Maine can do more to strengthen its laws and align them with the protections guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act. That’s why my Administration will move immediately, in concert with the Legislature, to help protect Mainers with pre-existing conditions, regardless of what happens at the federal level.”
“Health care is a basic human right. It’s about the freedom to have control over your own life, your own future,” said President Jackson. “With health care increasingly under attack, it’s our job as state lawmakers to do everything in our power to protect the health and well-being of Maine people, starting with this legislation. We must also work together to lower health care costs, increase access to care and strength the quality of coverage.”
“Our goal is affordable and accessible healthcare for every Maine family. From the closings of many of our rural hospitals to the outrageous cost of prescription drugs to a crippling opioid epidemic, the problems are real and they are staggering,” said Speaker Gideon. “This lack of access is causing lasting damage to not just individuals, but to our entire economy and it is time we took action. I am so proud to cosponsor LD 1 An Act to Protect Healthcare Coverage for Maine Families. This is just step one, but I’m confident under the administration of Governor-elect Mills and in partnership with Senate President Jackson, we are finally on a path to address these issues and make real and lasting change.”
While the Affordable Care Act will remain in effect as the court decision undergoes an appeals process, state leaders and lawmakers do not want to take chances. This bill will codify the patient protections outlined in the Affordable Care Act into state law. Patient protections include the coverage of essential health benefits, individuals with preexisting conditions and young adults who wish to remain on their parent’s health plan until the age of 26. The bill would also prevent insurance companies from charging seniors much higher premiums.
President Jackson sponsored similar legislation last session, which was ultimately vetoed by the governor. The latest iteration of the bill comes in response to the recent ruling out of Texas threatening the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and the patient protections that come with it.
The 129th Legislature will reconvene Wednesday, January 2nd for the inauguration of the Governor-elect.