Small business owners speak out in favor of MaineCare expansion
Tell legislators that access to health care is good for community and Maine’s economy
On Wednesday, members of the Maine Small Business Coalition joined leaders from the Maine Psychological Association in Bangor to speak out about the importance of health care expansion to Maine’s business community. During the press conference, MSBC members presented a pledge of support signed by more than 100 small businesses across the state in favor of health care expansion and called on the legislature to override the governor’s veto and ensure that the health of Maine’s residents and its economy is protected.
“Maine has always been at the forefront of the nation in providing quality care for its mentally ill citizens,” said Dr. John Lorenz of the Maine Psychological Association. “Our decision-makers have always understood that if you curtail access to services in the mental health arena, you will likely pay later in other sectors of society, such as Maine’s jails and prisons and in the educational system.”
Business leaders and health care professionals were also joined by individuals who have been directly affected by Governor LePage’s denial of MaineCare expansion. For Susan Alexa, who returned to school after more than 30 years in the corporate world, having MaineCare means she can access important medication she would otherwise be unable to afford.
“I had to get foot surgery which was essential to keeping me on my feet for 8 hour shifts at work. I also have both a heart condition and recurring migraines, and with MaineCare I could get diagnosis and treatment for these conditions, including a prescription for medication that I am still on,” said Alexa. “And now, I don’t have health insurance. I have to ask: when the medication runs out, what do I do? No one should have to face the barriers to health care that I, and thousands of other Mainers, now have.”
The legislature has the opportunity to pass a bill that would accept the federal funds to provide access to MaineCare to almost 70,000 Mainers. A similar bill was vetoed by Governor LePage last year and was failed to be overridden. Since then a number of groups including the Maine Hospital Association have voiced their support for MaineCare expansion, increasing pressure on lawmakers to finally pass the bill. A report released last month by the Alliance for a Just Society found that more than half of the jobs created by health care expansion would be in the health industry, and two-thirds would pay a living wage.
"The only thing more compelling than the clear economic data in support of MaineCare expansion is the moral imperative to provide health care to all Mainers,” said Kevin Simowitz, director of the Maine Small Business Coalition. “This is a common-sense issue, and business owners from across the state are joining the growing number of voices calling on our legislature to pass the bill to accept federal funds to provide 70,000 Mainers with the health care they need."